Bone in hair, any reality to it?

This shows up in several places in visual media, cavemen and women and racist caricatures.

Does this have any relation to reality? Do any humans in any time period wear bones as hair decorations? Where did this trope? originate?

Can this be discussed without accusing anybody of being racist? In Africa, I observed many people who (in the 1970’s) still used adornments that European Christians would not have thought conventional in their own culture. If I were to depict them, I would probably color them black. motivated by reality, not racism… I do not specifically recall bones in hair, but I probably would not have noticed such a detail.

Yes please, I am not accusing anyone of racism! I just have never seen a picture of Africans or anyone else actually using bones as hair ornaments, which is why I posed the question.

Does whale bone and tortoise shell count? Or does it have to be a chicken leg type bone like Pebbles had?

To be clear: Depicting an African in tribal attire wearing a bone is not racist, if that’s in fact how members of that tribe dress. Even if that tribe does not in fact wear bones in their hair, it might still just be a matter of simple ignorance, rather than racism. However, depicting, say, Barack Obama wearing a bone is racist.

Si Amigo, I think the OP is asking about bones in their natural shape, or something close to it, not bone shaped into combs or other shapes.

Not exactly uncarved bone, but the Mangbetu tribe use (or used) pretty chunky ivory hairpins

(broken link as it has some ethnographic pictures which may not be suitable for work)

This page shows some bone artifacts from an archaeological site that’s approximately 8000 years old, found in Missouri. It includes some bone hair ornaments, but they’ve all been worked in some way. These would, of course, have been worn by native Americans, and not Africans.

I suspect the idea of wearing a whole bone in your hair is largely a work of fiction. Bone is one of the oldest materials humans learned how to work, dating back at least 1.5 million years. Ornamnetation is a status marker, and the ability to get a whole, unworked bone in the stone age would not indicate much in the way of status. Being able to work the bone yourself, or to trade with someone in your tribe who could work bone, on the other hand, would be a different story.

Just to clarify I’m talking about caricatures like this:

Or this:

Or as said a photoshop of Obama with a bone in his hair and carrying a spear, I’m curious if this has any basis in reality.

This photo appears to be genuine, and depicts a woman using what appears to be a bone as a hair ornament. It may or may not be, but it would not be unreasonable to presume that someone would use a piece of bone, not necessarily ornately carved, to achieve a similar ornamental or functional purpose.

http://sirismm.si.edu/eepa/eep/eepa_03038.jpg

That’s a piece of carved ivory from the Congo - there are many more examples in my previous post.

Most of the pictures on that page show ornaments that are clearly carved, but the second picture shows ornaments which are either left bone-shaped, or deliberately carved into a shape very much like natural bones.

Wow thanks, these ivory picks look very bone like:

http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-IH062931.jpg?size=67&uid=d298053a-2109-462a-81aa-bae73ff98791

And jtur88’s post shows a similar ornament.

If it has a real world inspiration I’m betting this is it.

The first pic looks like a guy with a golf tee in this ear!