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The Secret Of Mary Magdalene’s Hair In The Iconography

 

On the majority of the Gothic or early Renaissance iconography (like on the example below) Mary Magdalene is reflected with thick hair all over her body.

Anonymous, Winterfled Diptych: Mary Magdalene Raised by Angels, ca.1430

Anonymous, Winterfled Diptych: Mary Magdalene Raised by Angels, ca.1430

 

Mary Magdalene was first mentioned in Gospels, nameless though, she served as a symbol of a sinner who repents the wrongdoings she has done. Preachers have used her as an example of penitence and grounds for the reason women being neglected some of Church rights.

Tilman Riemenschneider, Mary Magdalen taken up into the air, 1490-92, from the Altarpiece of the Magdalen, from Münnerstadt

Tilman Riemenschneider, Mary Magdalen taken up into the air, 1490-92, from the Altarpiece of the Magdalen, from Münnerstadt

 

According to the legend after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection Mary Magdalen neglected herself all mundane objects, clothes including. Once old clothes wore off and she had no other to replace, her body hair grew thicker to cover.

Attavante degli Attavanti and workshop, Mary Magdalene in “Horae ad usum Ecclesiae Romanae”, ca. 1492

Attavante degli Attavanti and workshop, Mary Magdalene in “Horae ad usum Ecclesiae Romanae”, ca. 1492

 

On some other reflections Mary simply has her hair so long that they cover her body fully. However, at some point Mary Magdalen was confused with the Saint Mary of Egypt, nevertheless, as she was more known personality, she became the one being reflected in iconography.

Antonio del Pollaiolo, Assumption of Mary Magdalene, ca.1460, Museo del Pollaiolo, Staggia Senese. Mary Magdalene iconography is clearly visible here

Antonio del Pollaiolo, Assumption of Mary Magdalene, ca.1460, Museo del Pollaiolo, Staggia Senese. Mary Magdalene iconography is clearly visible here