According to his Rastafarian faith, Bob Marley's dreadlocks should not have come into contact with a razor as long as he lived. Little surprise, then, that one removed from the head of the reggae superstar was sold for more than £250 per centimetre yesterday.
A four-inch strand of Marley's twisted hair was sold at an auction of pop memorabilia for £2,585, double its estimate and a record price for the tresses of a dead musical hero.
The lock was cut off by the Jamaican star and given to a girl he had met after a concert in London in 1980, a year before he died of cancer.
The auctioneer Christie's said: "Memorabilia like this does not come on to the market regularly. It's intriguing because it is a part of his body and a very personal gift. The lady was a great fan, but over the years her interest has waned."
In Rastafarianism, dreadlocks symbolise a devotion to God based on references in the Bible to the holiness of uncut hair. For example, Numbers 6:5 states: "There shall no razor come upon his head until the days are fulfilled ... He shall be holy and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."
Marley, a convert to the Rasta faith whose albums included Dreadlock Rasta, apparently observed this requirement except on the one occasion he succumbed to the pleas of the fan who kept the hair for 23 years.
The high price for the curly tress was in stark contrast to that attracted by the other Marley lot in the sale – a 12-string guitar used on his 1978 Kaya album. It failed to sell.
A roaring trade in items that once touched the body of a famous person, or indeed were attached to it, has come to the fore in recent years. Body parts of politicians are also attracting high values, both monetary and spiritual.
A pendant containing three 1cm strands of the hair of George Washington recently sold for $1,000 (£600), proving that, per centimetre at least, fathers of beat are worth more than fathers of nations.
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