hair tents


Thinking about 'hair tents' after reading The Power of Hair in the Victorian Imagination by E.G. Gitter.
To download a pdf version of the article click here.

Hair tents: warm and nest like, dark, sheltering, a protective retreat.  
When 'your girl, lying on top of you, lets her long hair down around your head' (William Tindall).  
For Dante Gabriel Rossetti they provided a 'visionary moment of perfect dark silence' (EG Gitter).
Robert Browning writes about them in Pauline as a place to nurture creativity:

Pauline, mine own, bend o'er me - thy soft breast
Shall pant to mine - bend o'er me - thy sweet eyes,
And loosened hair and breathing lips, and arms
Drawing me to thee - these build up a screen
To shut me in with thee, and from all fear;
So that I may unlock the sleepless brood
Of fancies from my soul, their lurking places.
(lines 1-7)

Links abound between hair, gold, webs, weaving, story-telling and story-reading, with a ladies tresses seen as beautiful and pure, haunting and alluring, duplicitous and deadly. Some things I thought worth making note of for future projects:

Saint Agnes
There are various stories about the martyrdom of Saint Agnes. The following is just one variation.

Sempronius, a Roman prefect, is angry at Saint Agnes for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods and to marry his son. He orders her to be stripped naked and weighed down with chains and exposed to his soldiers. But as her clothes are torn off her, she prays to God and inexplicably her hair grows and grows to form a dense cloak around her that cannot be penetrated.

The myth of Philomela
Philomela has her tongue cut out after being raped by her sister's husband, Tereus of Thrace, when she threatens to speak out about the attack. She weaves a fine cloak/tapastry that tells her story and sends it to her sister Procne. The story culminates with her and her sister being turned into birds by the Olympic Gods. One variation of the story states that Philomela is turned into a swallow that has no song and Procne into a nightingale that sings a sad and lonely song by night. More here.