). The use of the
comb is almost universal, for it is known to all tribes who have learnt to
weave. It is of pre-historic origin, since combs have been found in the
cave-dwellings of the early Stone Age (Boyd Dawkins, Early
p. 267); while specimens made of bone, horn, and wood turn up
in considerable numbers in the remains of the Swiss lake-villages (Keller,
pp. 119, 385, and 638, E. T.). Most of
these early combs seem to have been used for weaving, or for the subsidiary
processes of carding wool or heckling flax, and it would seem that they were
employed for such purposes at least as soon as, if not sooner than, for
dressing the hair. For its use in weaving, see TELA
It was also used for carding, a process which
is mentioned by Homer (εἴρια ξαίνειν,
; and εἴρια πείκειν,
), as one of the ordinary
household occupations. Naturally enough, mention of such menial every-day
work is not common in literature, but there can be no doubt about the use of
the comb for these purposes throughout the whole of antiquity. Thus Pliny
says that it was used for working flax (H. N.
]. 19.17) and
silk (ib. 18.297), and from inscriptions (Gruter, 648, 2) we learn of the
existence of a guild of pectinarii lanarii sodales.
Elsewhere the heckler or carder is called pectinator
Combs used for heckling and carding do not seem to have been as yet
discovered in Greece or Italy, but iron heckling combs with a large number
of sharp teeth have been found in Egyptian graves (Wilkinson, 3.140, No.
537). Much more common are the combs for hairdressing, which have been found
in considerable numbers on almost every ancient site. Literature gives but
little information of their use, except that it was considered a mark of
boorishness to go about with uncombed hair (Juv.
). The elaborate head-dresses shown on works of art, both
Roman and Greek, are, however, in themselves quite sufficient to prove that
the comb was an indispensable article of the toilet, especially in early
times, when both men and women wore their hair long and carefully dressed.
For the Spartan custom of combing their hair before a battle, see Hdt. 7.208
Combs are not often shown on the monuments, but appear on some Roman portrait
busts of ladies stuck as an ornament into an elaborate head-dress (Kurz and
pl. ix. fig. 17). On a sepulchral slab
in Gori, Inscript.
pl. i. p. 10 (Baumeister,
fig. 827), a double fine-toothed comb
is shown along with other toilet articles. Such combs have been found in
great numbers in Greece proper, the Crimea, Etruria, Pompeii, &c.,
made of wood, bone, and ivory, all of the same pattern, being precisely
similar to those found in Egypt, and to those used in the present day.
Boxwood was a favourite material, and the comb is frequently spoken of as
simply (Ovid. Fast.
6.229; Juv. l.c.
however, and bronze were also used; but this latter, at any rate, in most
cases only for combs with one row of teeth, which had highly-decorated
handles, and were evidently intended to be worn in the hair. These are not
unlike combs used for the same purpose now, but have, as a rule, triangular
or semicircular handles. Barbers were in the habit of cutting hair per pectinem,
to ensure its not being too short
Dictionaries will supply some other meanings of the words κτεὶς
and pecten which need not be specified
here. (See also Marquardt, Privatleben,
p. 601; Baumeister,
p. 775; COMA