Hair pins were the sign of a respectable married woman in Italy. They were first worn at the wedding, and after that on feast days and special occasions. Only the unmarried and prostitutes wore their hair loose.
Flat hair pins, like this, were worn across the back of the head to support the heavy braided hair. The decorative head stuck out at the side of the face. Ribbons were threaded through the two slits on the stem, to help hold it in place. The hand holding a flower, on its top, is typical of hair pins from the Campania region around Naples, and probably has amuletic significance. The pin has silver marks which show it was made in southern Italy between 1832 and 1872.