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Married Or Single? How a Hungarian woman wore her hair told the story.

FaceBook can be a wonderful thing when it works. For instance, I recently contacted Orsolya Zay, a Hungarian historian, and had a very informative discussion with her about Hungarian women’s dress in order to portray them in my upcoming novel #2 in The Treasure of the Raven King series.

Historically speaking, she said my initial presentation of an older woman with “long graying brown hair that flowed over her shoulder” was the style of a prostitute–NOT the image I wanted! Ms. Zay said that such a hairstyle might be seen on a married woman in parts of Western Europe, but not in Hungary.

Ms. Zay informed me that a married woman or a widow would pull her hair back in a bun, as shown at the top of the page, and cover it with a piece of cloth, often brocaded, as show here.

Fine. How would an unmarried woman style her hair then? It would be as shown below.

Notice that the woman’s hair is pulled back through a headdress, or a parta, worn long, and braided in the back. Flat lace extends from the parta over the braids and consists of colorful lace as seen below.

Once a woman married and lost her virginity, she was expected to adopt the hairstyle shown at the top of the page.

Here are two closeups of a parta, once fitted over a skull from an archeological dig:

Another detail I recorded is that Hungarian women, like those in Early Modern Western Europe, often wore vests laced together. They also wore a lacy apron over their skirt. This told everyone she was a good housekeeper.