The Curious History of the Beard

It can be seen as masculinity’s identity card. From antiquity onwards, it has lent itself to societal customs the world over. Few dare to question its charm. What are we talking about? Beards, of course! Check out below these historical anecdotes about this “life companion”:

 

  • Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt wore false beards which were held in place by a special resin. What’s more, during the 70-day period that it took to mummify the king, none of the kingdom’s subjects were allowed to shave.

 

  • Spartan society punished cowards by obliging them to shave one cheek, thus making them stand out among the rest of the men.

 

  • It is thought that the first barber in history arrived in Rome from Sicily in 4th century BC, bringing with him straight razors for shaving (predecessors of those that are used by barbers today). The blade varied in thickness depending on whether it was to be used for shaving with the grain or against the grain, even though the blade was not easy to handle. One of the most popular designs – aptly named the “cut-throat” – was 11cm long and required a fair amount of cold blood to be able to use on clients without cutting their throats.

 

  • Roman soldiers were not allowed to grow beards so as to impede the enemy to from grabbing hold of beards during hand-to-hand combat.

 

  • In order to discourage men from growing beards, the Russian czar Pedro the Great raised a tax against them. Once the tax was paid, they were given a copper coin as a receipt. If they did not have a coin, their beard was immediately cut off.

 

  • During the Italian Renaissance more than 70 edicts were published concerning the length of moustaches and goatees.

 

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