Early Wigs

The earliest Egyptian wigs (c. 2700 b.c.e.) were constructed of human hair, but cheaper substitutes such as palm leaf fibers and wool were more widely used. They denoted rank, social status, and religious piety and were used as protection against the sun while keeping the head free from vermin. Up until the 1500s, hair tended to be dressed as a foundation for headdresses, but by the end of the century hairstyles became higher and more elaborate constructions in which quantities of false hair were used to supplement the wearer's own. Hair was gummed and powdered, false curls and ringlets were in fashion, and, in some cases, a complete head of false hair called a perruque, was worn. The French perruque was colloquially known as a peruke, periwyk, periwig, and eventually the diminutive wig by 1675.

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