Like the heart, the head is an age-old symbol of the mind, of control, authority, honour, and also of blame.
Since time immemorial, the hair, an integral feature of the head, has been regarded as a source of strength, because, according to an old belief, it is the seat of the human soul; and it has therefore been associated with the idea of regeneration and rebirth. Covered hair, a primeval symbol of hidden knowledge, of the inscrutable, of secrecy, has been associated with kerchieves, veils, ceremonial coiffures, elaborate braids, and special head coverings.
Caps, kerchieves, and veils, symbols of submission to a higher power. Symbols of “sacrifice” in the sense of the death of an old life in anticipation of a new one, as is the case with brides.
Primordial symbols, such as crosses, circles, or lozenges, are made out of multicoloured beads, gold roundels, ten-lepta coins, little shells, snake horns, cloves, and garlic strung on lengths of red thread as lucky charms, together with red and blue ribbons, decorate braided hair in order to bring the wearer fertility and good luck.
In Thrace there is no limit to head decoration. Tradition feeds the women’s imagination and their dexterity creates head coverings which convey recognisable messages, to distinguish a married from a single woman, a girl from an adult woman, daughter from mother, aristocrat from commoner, Sunday best from everyday wear, mourning and sorrow from joy and festivity.