The woman wears her hair in a distinctive fashion: long braids encircle
the head and meet in a knot directly above the middle of the forehead; the
bangs are combed under the braids and away from the forehead; a smaller braid
runs from the knot along the top axis of the head (cf. Young
Girl, Riley Collection). The veil obscures all but the front of this elaborate
coiffure, but we know its appearance from coin portraits of important female
members of the nobility. From the numismatic evidence it appears that this
nodus (knot) coiffure became fashionable ca. 40 B.C.3
The particular variation worn by our matron was especially popular during
the later Augustan period when it was often worn by the Empress Livia.4
2. Ibid., nos. 8 and 37.
3. For more on the subject, see L. Furnée-van Zwet, "Fashion in Women's Hair dress in the First Century of the Roman Empire," Bulletin van de Vereeniging tot Bevordering der Kennis 31 (1956) 1-22; R. Steininger, Die weiblichen Haartrachten im ersten Jahrhundert der römischen Kaiserzeit (Munich 1909).
4. K. Polaschek, "Studien zu einem Frauenkopf im Landesmuseum Trier und zur weiblichen Haartracht der iulisch-claudischen Zeit," Trierer Zeitschrift 35 (1972) 141 210, especially fig. 6, no. 6 (Vatican Inv. 611). See also, Florence Inv. 96197: A. Romualdi, "I ritratti romani di epoca repubblicana e giulio-claudia del Museo Archeologico di Firenze," RM 94 (1987) 62-63, no. 12, pls. 50-52. Another parallel is Rome, Conservatori Inv. 2444: FZ III, no. 48, pl. 62.
Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Tom and Nan Riley Collection. Copyright © 1997 Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
Photos by C. Randall Tosh, copyright © 1988 The University of Iowa Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
Text from Richard Daniel De Puma. Roman Portraits. Iowa City, IA: The University of Iowa, 1988. Copyright © 1988 The University of Iowa Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
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