Wig (A Contraction Of Periwig Fr. Perruque), a covering for the head formed of hair, silk, thread, or other material designed to imitate the natural hair. The oldest wigs in existence, among the Egyptian antiquities of the British and Berlin museums, are composed of hair. Astyages, king of the Medes, according to Xenophon, wore a wig. Allusions to wigs are found in the writings of Livy, Ovid, Martial, Juvenal, Propertius, Plutarch, and Suetonius; and even the use of natural hair in their manufacture was understood by the ancient Romans, the blond locks of the German maidens being preferred. In the early ages of the Christian era, the fathers of the church vainly protested against the use of wigs; and afterward even churchmen themselves covered their heads with perukes. Henry III. of France, having lost his hair from sickness, wore a wig, and his courtiers began to follow his example. Under Louis XIII. the use of wigs became general; they were made of silk or thread. The dimension of the wig increased from the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV., and at length it extended half way down the back, while the curls on the sides fell equally low upon the breast. The wigs were generally made of silk, though a few of the most costly were of hair.

From France the fashion pervaded Europe, and it was at its height in England during the reign of Queen Anne. Toward the close of his life Louis XIV. began to powder the wig slightly; Louis XV. made it completely white, and his courtiers followed the fashion. This practice continued till the French revolution, when wigs and powder disappeared together from France. The large, white, "full-bottomed" wig is still worn by the English judges. The large wig was somewhat in vogue in the American colonies in the last half of the 18th century, but disappeared after the revolution.