Toilet sets from the Pitt Rivers Museum collectionsToilet sets from the Pitt Rivers Museum collections
or most of us, personal care may be a necessary part of life, but not one that we may really think about very much. Washing our bodies and hair, cleaning our teeth, cutting nails and removing or trimming hair all become part of a routine. Whilst personal care might be regarded as something which is highly individual or which is done in private, much of this habitual maintenance is dictated by cultural preferences concerning beauty, health, and hygiene that have been developed over millennia.

Of the 100-plus objects exhibited in this section in the Pitt Rivers Museum's Body Arts displays, two apparent themes to emerge. First is the enduring nature of certain tools and practices, such as tweezers for depilation used in Ancient Peru and pumice stones used to slough the feet of Ancient Egyptians. Second is the variety of materials used around the world to create objects for the same purpose; clay, berries or plant roots used to formulate soaps, and razor blades made of metal, bottle-glass, volcanic glass or flaked stone.

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