My fascination for beards goes beyond sculpting and researching for its better health. Browsing the Internet to know more about the history of men’s facial hair happens to be one of my favourite pass time while travelling. During such casual surfing, I discovered some rather fascinating facts about beards.
And like every time, how can I not share these amazing stories with you all. So, here are the five defining moments in the history of beards.
Yes, History has been flooded with beard haters. Beards were once taxed under Peter the Great to encourage cleanshaveness. Unfortunately, those who didn’t comply were taxed 100 Rubles a year for a medallion. This medallion served as a license to wear a beard. Notably, the tax was not so much about money.
His inscription on the beard license read, “The beard is a useless burden.”
Safety razor was launched in Sheffield, England, only in 1828 and before that for hundreds of years men had to visit a barber to have their facial hair groomed. Though there were things like tweezers, barbershops were a social gathering area for the menfolk.
They say that duringTudor times, some barbershops even arranged musical instruments so that people could meet and mingle while waiting for their turn in the barber's chair, all in a musical background.
Egyptians love for gold is well known. And that love even extended to their beards. Gold beards were all the rage back in ancient Egyptian times. Men would dye their beards and plate them gold which also happened to be a mark of their high rank in the society.
Alexander and Peter’s crusade against beards:
Alexander the Great held a great grudge against facial hair and always had all of his men shaved before heading into a crucial battle. But his rationale was more practical than aesthetic. Plutarch says that the fear was that enemy soldiers would grab their beards in close combat and pull them from their horses.
Russia under Peter the Great too witnessed hostile environs for beard-bearers. After his tour of Western Europe in the late 17th century, Peter came back with the belief that facial hair of any kind was out of style. During a reception held in honour of his return, Peter the Great whipped out a straight razor—and proceeded to shave his guests’ faces.
That was indeed ruthless!
Charles Darwin proposes the theory of facial hair’s sex appeal:
All of us may know about this fact and take pride in our beards, but Charles Darwin was one of the first people to float the scientific basis behind this theory. In his 1871 book The Descent of Man, the naturalist compared beards to the antlers, tusks, plumage, and other ornamentations used by animals to advertise themselves to members of the opposite sex. He suggested that prehistoric men in some parts of the world evolved similar signals on their faces to appeal to women.