Bone Hair Pins

Bone Hair Ornaments

Well made ornamental pins are found at a number of archaeological sites in eastern Oklahoma. These resemble bone awls in that they are usually pointed and could have served for making holes in skins, but they are carefully made and have some decoration or special treatment on the handle. They are here classed as hair ornaments or hairpins because they are usually found associated with burials close to the head of the individual as if they had been worn in the hair.

The bone pins are pointed pencil-shaped forms which commonly range from 150 mm to 250 mm in length, although both shorter and longer specimens are known. They usually have a round cross section and have been carefully shaped with some decoration or elaboration of the base or head of the pin. Most commonly the head is enlarged or expanded forming a ball or crutch-shaped pin head (Figure 40a). This is frequently decorated with incisions cut into the pin head (Figure 40d). One example has the basal portion decorated with a series of cut grooves which encircle

 

the shaft (Figure 40e). The pins are normally well polished from usage all along the shaft rather than just around the tip section which is more typical of bone awls. Some pins, although generally tapering to a point, have the tip purposely blunted and would not serve as an awl without sharpening of the point. There are also some hair ornaments that are made of flattened pieces of bone with more ornate treatment of the head section, which indicates considerable variation in these ornaments.

The bone hair ornaments appear to be associated with the Caddoan occupations ranging from Fourche Maline to Harlan and Spiro phases. It should be noted that similar hair ornaments were also made of copper and wood, and the latter often were coated with a thin copper veneer or sheath. Some of the wooden pins also have ornately carved heads. There is the suggestion that the bone hair ornaments were gradually replaced by copper coated wooden pins and finally by solid copper pins during the Caddoan occupation.

 

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