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Document Details :
Title: The Representation of Wigs in Roman Female Portraiture of the Late 2nd to 3rd Century AD
Author(s): ACKERS, Helen I.
Volume: 94 Date: 2019
The purpose of this article is to take a significant appurtenance of feminine fashion - the wig - and demonstrate its ideological function. We know that Roman women wore wigs in ‘real’ life. References in the literary sources and rare yet significant examples of surviving wigs and hairpieces provide solid evidence for the use of wigs by Roman women. However, the explicit depiction of wigs seems to have been restricted to a selection of women’s portraits dated to the late 2nd to 3rd century AD. This consequently marks a significant development in female representation, confined to a specific historical context. The purpose of this article is to understand why it was that these portraits presented women bewigged. What was the ideological function of these portraits and how can this more broadly inform our understanding of the cultural priorities of this era?