Studies in cultural, religious and social history reveal that hair has diverse socio-religious and symbolic value in Jewish society and tradition. The focus of previous studies has, however, lied on issues such as specific hairstyle or the halakhic justifications for religious wig-wearing The present paper sets out to illuminate a related yet uncharted topic: the social and economic history of the wig trade in which Jews played an important role. The focus is on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period marked by great tensions within the Jewish community. It was these tensions that turned the question of wig-wearing and the dynamics of supply into an issue that reflected the general transformation that Jewish society was undergoing in this period. Hair fashion is, of course, not necessarily a matter of only halakhic interest, and indeed the history of the trade with human hair also reveals new aspects of the economic history of Jews.
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