The History of the Beard

history of the beard

History of the Beard

The history of the beard Throughout the history of mankind was very rich, beards have had different functions. When the earth knew a colder climate than it was now, body and facial hair was meant to provide extra warmth.

A beard was also somewhat more violent and could also be used to intimidate local tribes. Nowadays beards are grown as status symbol, fashion statement and to radiate masculinity. The history of the world is indicated in periods.

A period is a certain time in which a civilization undergoes a major change,
such as learning and applying the script, the union of large pieces of land or inventions of innovative technology.

These periods are: prehistoric times (prehistory), antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the new era. The beard was worn throughout all periods and thus had different functions. Since there is virtually no documentation available about bearded men in prehistoric times, we start in this article in ancient times.

  1. The history of the beard on the Ancient times

So men from ancient times grew beards because of the heat,
a certain intimidation factor and protection.
It protected their mouth from dirt and in some parts of the world from the bright sun, when the skin of man was less resistant to UV radiation.
The growth of facial hair provides an optically stronger jaw line,
which in turn provides a deterrent look.

  • Phoenicia

Phoenicia is a region on the Mediterranean, which is now Lebanon.
In this area the first discoveries have been made,
so that it can be said with certainty that the former people spent time and attention on their beards.
The sarcophagus (stone coffin) that has been found leaves a beard style that goes from ear to ear and covers the cheeks and chin, or a full beard style.

  • Mesopotamia

The men from Mesopotamia (Two-stream country, present-day Iraq) were very concerned about their facial hair. She used beard oil to care for hairs and jewelry such as braided rings to make their beards extra visible. The beard style was long and full.

  • Egypt

Around 3000 BC, the Egyptians used ‘beards’ made of metal and gold, as a sort of mask. This was done by kings and rulers and served as status symbol and evidence of appreciation towards the gods. Men with a regular rank within society gave recognition to the gods by coloring their beard, but with cheaper means.

  • India

In India beards have long grown and worn and stood as a symbol of wisdom and honor. The beard was well cared for and it was even the casethat
adultery was punished with the public cutting off the beard.

  • Persia

A little later, the Persian people are known to have started caring and decorating their beards early on.
They used natural beard oils from plants and made beads and
necklaces specifically for the beard.

  • China

In China, men did not believe from the belief that the human body
should not be adjusted as it is a gift from parents.
For example, soldiers of the Terracotta army had a mustache and goatee.

  • Greece

The Greeks used their beards as a sign of honor and courage where the
beard even had an elevated status and was frequently mentioned in writings.
The Greeks only trimmed their beard during periods of mourning or when performing a punishment. The Spartans did this by cutting large pieces of the beard.

  • Macedonia

The smoothing of the cheeks only became a habit around 350 BC.
This was because Alexander the Great stated that soldiers should not wear beards.
He did this for practical reasons, because enemy soldiers could grab
the hair and possibly get a small lead on the battlefield.
Men who strongly held on wearing their beards were philosophers.

  • Rome

Lucius Tarquinius encouraged the use of the first ‘razor blades’ during his reign of Rome (535 BC) and thereby ensured that the hygiene of the beard-bearing man suddenly took a great leap forward.
Although completely smooth shaving was still not fully accepted, the first barbershops were established in the main streets of ancient Rome.
These shops were usually used by men who were not slave-drivers,
otherwise a slave would do the shaving of course.
A few decades later, shearing was accepted in ancient Rome.
The famous philosophers and their typical busts are, however, almost all depicted with beard.

  1. The history of the beard on The Middle Ages

During the middle Ages, a beard was seen as brave and masculine.
The touching of someone else’s beard was therefore seen as betrayal
and was reason enough to challenge a duel between the two men.
So most noblemen and soldiers wore beards, where the unmarried priests
were just shaved clean.
A little later, around 1600, the Flemish painter Van Dyck made a painting in which he painted blue blood with beards.
The men of this time used pomade, grease and brushes to model the hair.

  • Renaissance

Chinese emperors (1300-1700) are almost all depicted with beards.
This is because they still held on to the ideal image of Confucius
(see China in ancient times). The beard style was full and long.

  • Ming Chengzu

At the beginning of the 17th century there was only a change: the length of the beard was less. In 1698, Peter I of Russia even introduced a law that imposed taxes on bearded men. He wanted to ensure that the Russian culture was more in line with Western Europe.

  • 19th century

The 19th century saw two camps when it comes to facial hair: smooth shaved and bearded. The difference between high status and the regular man became less and actually you could do what you liked the most at the time.
What was a striking trend is that famous men such as Alexander III of Russia,
Napoleon III, Charles Dickens and Garibaldi wore a beard with pride.

  • 20th century

Its popularity decreases in the beginning of the 20th century.
Around the twenties and thirties men wore a less conspicuous form of facial hair,
namely a mustache or goatee. Well-known faces are Hitler, Stalin and Einstein.
From 1920 onwards, the marketing landscape in America changed,
which meant that many companies were inducing the possibility
of selling their products to the masses.
One of the first major advertising campaigns included Gillette,
which greatly increased the sales of razor blades.
The result was a further decrease in popularity of the beard and from 1920 until the 60s a beard was practically no longer worn.
Wearing a beard only became more popular in the 1960s when groups such as The Beatles and Beach Boys adopted the full beard style.
Over time, certain beard models are becoming popular. Abraham Lincoln made the ‘chin curtain’ popular at the beginning of the 19th century.

History of the Beard – Conclusion

Today, about 55% of all men worldwide wear a face mask.  But prior to this time:

  • In prehistoric times, beards were seen as honorable and the beard was shaved off as a punishment.
  • In the Middle Ages, touching someone’s beard was seen as aggressive and challenging, which was reason for a duel.
  • President Lincoln, with his beard style, had a big influence on the appearance of beards and has been responsible for the popularity of today’s beard.
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