Purifying body and soul : Late Antique combs, their use and visual culture

Variant title
Očista těla a duše : pozdně antické hřebeny, jejich užívání a vizuální kultura
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. Supplementum 3, pp. [78]-97
Extent
[78]-97
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Rights access
fulltext is not accessible
Abstract(s)
Late Antique combs covered with Christian imagery represent extremely challenging but uninvestigated objects. Decorated with representations of Christ's miracles (e.g., The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, The Wedding at Cana, The Healing of the Bleeding Woman, etc.), they present some of the essential visual patterns for the Christian identity of their time. Although focusing on tools of daily use may seem odd, this article attempts to understand whether these seemingly mundane objects had a spiritual, possibly ritual, purpose. Following a reflection on the potential role of combs in Late Roman society, the article introduces Christian combs with Christian imagery. A review of the combs' likely ritual uses based on the few primary sources surviving sheds light on the function of a several examples. Finally, analysis of the images adorning the selected combs as well as of monumental decoration leads to the plausible conclusion that these combs had an initiatory function.
Summary language