Hair Comb and Tweezers
Rather than using a razor, many Nez Perce men used tweezers to pull out their facial hair. The comb was made for long, thick hair. Children were taught at a very young age to take care of their hair and braid it after their “morning swim,” although anyone of the extended family could help them. It was in the morning that the wife braided her husband’s hair making sure it was meticulously neat. At night, the husband traditionally would take his wife’s braids out and comb her hair.
The sacredness of hair and how it was taken care continues to be important today. It was, and still is taboo to touch someone else’s hair unless you are the spouse or are given special permission. The only time hair was cut was to express grief at the loss of a loved one. This was an act of taking away your beauty and honor, and was also an act of shame to have short hair. For the many native children sent to boarding schools, having to cut their hair off was particularly shameful.
The wooden hair comb was wrapped in buckskin.
Wood, buckskin. L 35.4, W 8.4 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 255
These tweezers for pulling out whiskers were made and used by Peo Peo Tholekt. They were traded to McWhorter.
Leather, copper. L 21.4, W 2.3 cm
Nez Perce National Historical Park, NEPE 266