The four fingers and thumb. “Se pygnoit du pygne d' Almaing” (Rabelais,) He combed his hair with his fingers. Oudin, in his Dictionnaire, explains pygne d' Aleman by “los dedos et la dita.” The Germans were the last to adopt periwigs, and while the French were never seen without a comb in one hand, the Germans adjusted their hair by running their fingers through it.
“He apparelled himself according to the season, and afterwards combed his head with an Alman comb.” —Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, book i. 21.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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