​Head of a Woman

​Head of a Woman


Did Greek and Roman women regularly wear head coverings? Many ancient texts, including Jewish and Christian teachings, told women that they should. Reasons included modesty, protecting them from men’s attention, and diminishing their attraction for men. Hair was considered one of the most sexually tempting parts of a woman’s body. We don’t know how often women followed this advice. The most common representations of veils in art are wedding scenes, but in literature women wear them much more frequently.

The veils are probably part of the large, rectangular garment called a himation, or mantle, that a woman would wrap around her body. She would use this to cover her head, revealing what she chose to expose of her hair and face.


Work Date:
1st half of the 2nd century BCE
Credit Line:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cesnola Collection Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2812)