Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Chatelaine

Chatelaine 

A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with useful household appendages such as scissors, thimbles, watches, keys, vinaigrette, and household seals.

The chatelaine was also used as a woman's keychain in the 19th century to show the status of women in a household. The woman with the keys to all the many desks, chest of drawers, food hampers, pantries, storage containers, and many other locked cabinets was "the woman of the household". As such, she was the one who would direct the servants, housemaids, cooks and delivery servicemen and would open or lock the access to the valuables of the house, possessing total authority over who had access to what. Frequently, this hostess was the senior woman of the house. When a woman married and moved into her father-in-law's house, her husband's mother would usually hold on to the keys. However, if the mother became a widow, the keys and their responsibilities and status were often passed to the oldest son's wife. Younger women and daughters in the house often wanted the appearance of this responsibility, and would often wear decorative chatelaines with a variety of small objects in the place of keys, especially bright and glittering objects that could be used to start a conversation.In the case of the absence of a woman of the house, the controller of the keys was often a hired housekeeper.




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