Comb in the Slavic tradition – Part 1

A comb was traditionally regarded by Slavs as sharp, pricking apotropaic object as well as female and erotic symbol. Due to its frequent teeth and contact with hair, it was also endowed with producing properties.

We continue to familiarize you with the customs and beliefs of the ancient Slavic people, while working on the animated fantasy comic book series. In such posts, as if jumping forward in time, we shed light upon and help to understand the events that will occur in our story … 😉

According to Bulgarian customs, the girl hid her comb from strangers, since it could be used to hex the owner. Thus, after combing, she would immediately wrap the comb in a towel and put it in a secret place. In Belarus, people were not allowed to leave the comb in an open place, believing that this could cause trouble. In Poland, if a comb fell on the floor, people would guess which visitor to expect – frequent or rare (depending on the frequency of the comb teeth).

In girls’ divination and in love magic, the comb symbolized a girl or was an attribute of a groom. In the Vologda region, the girls hung a comb outside the window and chanted: “My betrothed, come and comb your hair!”. In Polesie region, on Kupala night, the girls made a comb of “ant oil” and combed guys with it to bewitch.

“The Catalogue Of Rudolph’s Magic” (13th century) says about divination ritual using a comb by Slavs in Silesia: «They prepare water and put it together with a comb, oats and a piece of meat with these words: “Come, Satan, take a bath, comb your hair, give oats to your horse, and meat to your hawk, and show me my husband”». In Eastern Serbia, around a new year, girls would put fragments of a comb, a piece of coal, soot, a mirror, etc. under the shards: whoever pulls out a comb fragment will get a groom “with teeth”. The comb was given to the bride at a Russian wedding; among the Serbs, the mother-in-law always gave the daughter-in-law a comb along with other gifts.

To be continued…

Source: “Slavic Antiquities” – encyclopedic dictionary in 5 volumes by Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Slavic comb