This is picture of an antique brass hair untangler or a comb. I am very careful the usage of the word comb as the artifact does not identify with the characteristics of a comb. It is long and forked. The design is similar to that of two pronged fork. It is made of brass so the forked ends remain sturdy.
As the name suggests the Antique Hair untangler or detangler was used to remove knots from hair. The sharp and narrow design of the untangler helps it to easily penetrate the tangled hair and easily remove the knots. South Indian women usually kept hair long. Most of the goddesses like Lakshmi and Saraswathi are shown in pictures as having a long and lustrous hair topped by golden kireetam (crown).It is evident from the ancient scriptures till present day cultures in India, women liked their hair long beyond their waist length.
This beautifully crafted hair detangler is crafted with a long handle to facilitate a good grip so that it is not slipped from the hand when negotiating with a tough tangle of hair.The handle has a corrugated design with parallel ridges and furrows. This corrugation gives the required grip to the handle.For further grip there are grooves in between the ridges that also give excellent design aspect and aesthetic appeal to the handle. Detangler has two fork like teeth that are actually used to detangle the kinky hair.The knotted hair is kept on the palm and the sharp edges of the fork teeth are run dexterously into the knots and worked out to remove the knots. Initially the hair is separated with the four fingers using them like the four teeth of a comb. By running through the fingers, one will get the feel of the hair and the extent of tangling.Then the hair is combed with a wide-toothed comb and in the process if a snag is hit, the detangler is used to loosen the tangled strands of hair.
Combing the hair after it has dried was not a viable option as the hair dries up in knots and becomes prone to breakage and damage. This untagler easily penetrates through any type of hair and makes it convenient to get rid of the knots and the long narrow design further aids the process.
The Antique brass hair untangler also consists of a rectangular hole on its handle. This hole was made so that the Antique Brass hair untangler can be hanged to a nail by a piece of thread close to the mirror.
This beautiful antique brass hair detangler is acquired from an antique dealer in Cochin, Kerala. Most of the ladies in Kerala fancy long hair as a tradition. Since long hair is prone to get tangled if proper care is not taken, Kerala women use the detanglers to keep their hair tangle free. Their hair is long, thick and shining with coconut oil which they apply profusely to their hair. There are various reasons for their long beautiful hair. Because of heavy rains in Kerala and the surrounding back waters, the weather is humid most of the time and this condition helps in moisturizing the hair. Kerala women rarely trim their hair hence allowing the hair to grow to its fullest length. They very rarely use chemical shampoos and rely mostly on traditional herbal ayurvedic lotions and powders. They always leave minimum amount of coconut oil on the head due to which their scalp is never in dry condition. The oil and moister keep the hair follicles and hair shaft healthy resulting in lustrous long and crinkle free hair.
Traditionally Kerala women take head bath every day after applying liberal dose of coconut oil in their hair. After the bath they do not dry their hair by rubbing against a towel or by hair dryer. Instead they wrap a thin cotton cloth around the wet hair like a turban which absorbs the excess moisture and retains required moisture for the hair. After that they keep the semi- wet hair loose and long by tying the hair loosely with few strands of hair picked from the sides of the head near the two ears. It is the dry hair that tends to tangle and moist hair is less prone to tangling. Most of the Kerala houses have their own tanks for their daily bath or at least a well. They go to work in the same semi- wet hair decorated with a string of jasmine flowers. These types of detanglers are not found in other parts of India and this is peculiar to Kerala and South Karnataka only.
May be it is the need that makes the artisans design and fabricate utility items such as these unique detanglers that help the ladies from this part of South India keep their beautiful hair tangle free.