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Comb 13th–15th centuries, Fustat (medieval Cairo), Egypt Wood Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1969.2.20


The wooden combs found in Fustat (medieval Cairo) were used in Egyptian everyday life. They detangled knots, and cleaned and styled hair. The different widths of denticulation allowed for the comb’s dual function. The broader teeth unkinked the hair, while the finer teeth rid it of lice as well as dust and dirt. Its uses were thus hygienic and aesthetic. In addition, functional objects such as these were quite often ornamented with patterns, including series of concentric circles like those delicately carved into the center panel of this wooden comb. Other combs also include inscriptions that praise solely their aesthetic results, proudly declaring: "I am a comb for the hair. I am only used for beauty."

Bibliography: Georges 1911; Scanlon 1997; and Raziq 1972, 407.

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