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The beard in history

From Ancient Greece to Classical Rome, the barbarians, and the Far East...

A mans beard, if it is never cut, could reach a length of more than 9 meters. That’s how we imagine the desert hermits, covered only by long hair and white flowing beards. However, such style does not fit in society and that is why human beings, throughout their history, have developed techniques of shaving and styling. To tame the hairy forest that grows on their cheeks.


The beard was not treated the same way by all cultures. Peoples like the American Indians shaved perfectly, letting only straight black hair grow, a symbol of a warriors value. The same is true for almost all the indigenous peoples of the Americas, as well as for the inhabitants of the Far East. The Japanese and Chinese prefer mustaches, if anything, rather than the beard. The reason may perhaps be found in the lack of uniformity of the beards, which would make them aesthetically imperfect and therefore expendable.


A people who, instead, made the beard a symbol of their own is certainly the Greeks. For the Greeks in the time of Socrates, in fact, it was considered unnecessarily effeminate to shave. The beard, however, was always taken care of and kept with elegance, and the job of barber was to originate in Ancient Greece, more exactly in Sicily. In fact the use of barbers was introduced in Rome right after the conquest of the island. The Romans made good use of this art. For them, unlike the Greeks, to grow a beard was seen as a sign of eccentricity and lack of virility. We have to wait until the enlightened emperor Marcus Aurelius for customs to change and the acceptance of the beard in the Roman world. But by then the empire was dissolving and at the frontiers peoples of the north were gathering for whom the beard was a sign of indispensable warrior values.

Mosé, Michelangelo

Over the centuries, the beard has suffered ups and downs, but it is only in the twentieth century that it has acquired an aesthetic self. Especially today, with the great return of barbering & grooming, the beard is at the center of desires for both men and women. And men know that a beautiful beard can be very attractive. So even those who have sparse or uneven growth, try to make up the shortfall with technical discoveries. For example the hair transplant. It seems that beard thickening is the most requested cosmetic surgery by men. Expensive and painful, of course, but then who doesn’t want to look beautiful …

Federico Flamminio
Archivio The Italian Touch 2015