More Than A Beard - A Look Into the Symbolic Values of Facial Hair Between Different Cultures

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 A beard is defined in the dictionary as a growth of hair on the chin and lower cheeks of a man's face, but to many people today a beard is looked at as a symbol of masculinity. While this may be true to some, throughout different cultures a beard is thought to be the meaning of much more than just a way of determining how much of a man you are.

Taking a look at ancient India, men treated their beards with substantial care. A longer beard was a symbol of great wisdom and dignity, and was even considered as applicable payment for one’s debt. Public cutting of a man’s beard was also a punishment for an act of adultery, where one would lose their dignity.

Going back to 3000 to 1580 BC, high ranking Egyptians grew hair on their chins that was then colored a reddish brown and plaited with golden thread. A fake metal beard was worn by kings and queens of the time as a sign of their sovereignty.

In Medieval Europe, knights thought extremely highly of their beards, for their beards showcased their strength and honor. Taking hold of another man's beard was extremely offensive, and could only be settled by a duel between the two involved.

To some, these customs may seem ridiculous if put into place in today’s everyday life. One could argue that a beard is typically grown for the sole fact that it looks appealing. As you continue to go about your life, stop and look at the beards you see on different people, and appreciate why they were originally grown in the first place.

-Ethan Smith