Ornaments have become a staple of holiday decorations, but it might surprise people to learn the history of ornaments. When the earliest cave dwellers decorated themselves with brightly colored animal pelts and feathers, they did so without any knowledge of how their decorations worked. It was not until sometime later that people learned about the existence of pigments and dyes. The use of ornaments quickly developed into a way for humans to differentiate between tribes and regions. After a while, ornamentation began to evolve into an art form. Designs and motifs were interconnected with the environment and culture in which they lived.
The earliest use of animal pelts for decoration could be dated back 40,000 years ago in Europe. In addition to using furs from animals, ancient European people also decorated themselves with seashells and bones. Throughout history, humans have used plant leaves, flowers, fruit peels, twigs, shells, and other similar items to create ornaments. People would find a dead bird with bright plumage and use its feathers as decoration for their clothing. In this case, no actual tools were needed since the birds themselves acted as the source of materials.
1) In the early years of civilization when people made their clothes, they often wore necklaces and bracelets made from seashells. Sometimes these seashells were carved into a spiral shape that looked like a coiled snake or a ram’s horn. People in many parts of the world found that this shape was pleasing to look at, and they began to make ornaments based on it.
2) In Ancient Egypt, gold was considered the flesh of the gods and was used for amulets of protection against evil spirits. The Egyptians believed that amulets of the gold carry powerful magic that could even bring the dead back to life. Gold jewelry was a symbol of power and high status in society.
3) The Chinese had been decorating their hair with ornaments since around 1000 B.C. Hairpins were common among the upper class, while the lower classes made do with beads threaded on a piece of string to pin up their hair.
4) A ring was one of the earliest forms of jewelry known to man. Rings were often made out of bone, wood, shells, or stones – but not metal. It wasn’t until the discovery that metals could be melted and shaped that rings became available in many different kinds of designs.
5) Ancient Roman soldiers wore a type of body armor called a thorax. The young men who wore these breastplates believed that it made them look strong and handsome. They carved images of eagles, lions, or snakes into them to make themselves more appealing. Eventually, this practice spread to the wider community, and even Emperor Augustus had an eagle carved onto his thorax to impress people when he strolled around in his gold-trimmed robes.
6) In the middle ages, most jewelry was made from base metals such as copper or bronze. But in times of war, people often melted down the precious metals that they had amassed over the years to make cannons or swords. Those who survived a battle often ended up with nothing more than scraps of metal left to use.
7) During the Renaissance period, wealthy people began to wear ornate gloves decorated with intricate designs of lace and embroidery. The main fashion at the time was for clothing to be tight-fitting, so these gloves became a way of showing off their wealth without being ostentatious.