Hairstyles Through History

Ancient History to 1600

Hairstyles have always defined us. Every era can be recognized by a certain hairstyle. You can recognize the curls of a Roman as obviously different from the curls of a Cavalier – 1600 years apart. The jet black wig of a Pharaoh from the wigs of the 18th century. Underneath both was probably a shaven or bald head. Styles have varied greatly over the years. Both men and women have succumbed to the changing fashions. Way back in time in the Ancient World, Babylonian men dyed their long hair and beards black and used curling tongs while Persian men also curled their hair and beards and stained them red with henna.

In ancient Egypt, both men and women shaved their heads for coolness and wore heavy black wigs for ceremonial occasions. Men would also shave their faces and wear stiff false beards instead. One wonders why. Greek and Roman women used curling irons piling their hair high in curls and braids; their men wearing their hair short in halo styles sometimes again curled. Hairdressers during this and up until the middle of the 18th century were household slaves or in later years, servants, although men might have used the services of a public bathhouse or barbershop.

Religion has always influenced the way hair is worn. Muslim women cover their hair when in public. Sikh men wear turbans, not being allowed to reveal their hair. In China, men would shave the front hair and grow the back long and braid it into a queue which they thought would be used to draw them up into Heaven.

Unusually, perhaps American Indians are the only race where both men and women have their hair in the same style. Worn in two plaits at the side.

In Europe in the Middle Ages men generally wore their hair neck length

 

in what became known as the Page Boy style while the Church encouraged modesty in women ordering married women to wear a veil to cover their hair, an injunction which brought about a large number of different designs in veils, wimples, caps, hoods, and kerchiefs. An unmarried girl could wear her hair loose but would have to cover it once she was married.

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