​Hairpin with Eros

​Hairpin with Eros


Straight hairpins with miniature sculptures on the ends have been found all over the Roman Empire. They were used to hold a tight bun or twist in place, or as a hair ornament. These tiny sculptures would have been seen only by people close to the woman wearing them. They also were probably used to apply perfume to the wearer’s hair before they were put in. Wearing the perfume applicator would make the scent last longer.

Hairpin sculptures could be symbolic. Eros (Cupid) might mean the wearer hoped for love. A hand was a common motif to ward off the evil eye. Hairpins with women wearing fashionable hairstyles resembled miniature portraits of the wearer herself.


Work Date:
from Dura-Europos, ca. 165–256 CE
Credit Line:
Yale University Art Gallery (1938.862)