“What do I do with my hair?!?” has been the anguished cry of women frustrated with a “bad hair day” or keeping their long locks out of their way while working for centuries. And, of course, in many times and places throughout the Middle Ages a married woman or lady of station was expected to keep her hair covered. While noblewomen often relied on the veil, or the veil and wimple, a far simple and more practical style developed amongst the working classes in the 13th century, and became a common fashion for the next two centuries, particularly in the Italian and German principalities and free cities. Likely developed from a practical “ad hoc” solution by bathers wishing to keep their hair dry, a long piece of linen was wrapped about the head into a tight turban, sometimes worn with a rectangular veil added over top, especially in Italy. A perfect, simple, comfortable and historical way to keep your hair out the way and in the heat of summer you can even soak it with cool water before wearing – kind of medieval air conditioning!
See our ‘Photo Gallery’ below for instructions on how to wrap your turban.
Drawing after The Romance of King Validus by Rustin de Pisa in the British Museum, London, late 13th century
Drawing after the fresco Paradise: Scenes from Genesis by Giusti de Menaboui in the Bapistry in Padua, Italy circa 1378
Drawing after Poverty and Fortune in Cas des Nobles Hommes et Femmes, Verad, Paris, France circa 1494
Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to wind your turban.