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'Hairy' secrets to Cleopatra's success!

The book, Cleopatra and Rome, says that the Egyptian beauty used her hairstyles in calculated ways.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 19:16 IST

Think of Cleopatra and immediately you can conjure up an image of the Egyptian queen in her characteristic hairdo adorned with a cobra headgear. But apparently there was more to Cleopatra’s hairstyles, as she used them in calculated ways to enhance her power and fame.

According to a book published recently by a Yale art history and classics professor, statues, coins and other existing depictions of the queen suggest Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.) wore at least three hairstyles, according to Diana Kleiner.

The first, a "traveling" do that mimicked the hair of a Macedonian Greek queen, involved sectioning the hair into curls, which were then often pulled away from the face and gathered into a bun at the back.

The next was a coiffure resembling a melon, and the third was the regal Cleopatra in her royal Egyptian headdress, complete with a rearing cobra made of precious metal.

Cleopatra did not invent any of these styles, but she used them to her advantage, Kleiner indicated in her book Cleopatra and Rome.

"From the time of (Egyptian King) Ptolemy I, the Ptolemaic queens wore the 'melon hairstyle' with its segmented sections resembling a melon or gourd," Kleiner told Discovery News.

"But,Cleopatra appears to have worn different coiffures in different circumstances, playing to her audience, so to speak, in life and in art," she added.

Kleiner explained that when the queen was in her homeland, her likely objective was to look like a traditional Egyptian ruler since she was in fact Greek, and to legitimize the Ptolemaic dynasty by linking it to the time of the Pharaohs.

A group of Egyptian statues recently has been linked to Cleopatra, although the identification cannot be proved since there are no accompanying inscriptions.

"These show her with the customary Egyptian wig and the triple uraeus (rearing cobra). This Egyptian coiffure is the one we most often associate with Cleopatra today,” Kleiner said.

First Published: Mar 21, 2006 19:16 IST