Shaving in the RoTK era

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Re: Shaving in the RoTK era

Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:41 am

Rydain wrote:I don't have a specific source to cite, and I'm not sure how accurate my memory is. However, I recall reading about children's hair styles that involved some head shaving. Were these commonly worn in the RoTK era? If so, how did that mesh with the filial importance of hair? Did the no-shaving rule only kick in upon adolescence or adulthood?

I haven't heard that one--perhaps it's from the Qing dynasty? (The Manchu custom of shaving the front of the head and leaving a pigtail in the back really, really, didn't sit well with the Han Chinese.)

Although shaving was a no-no except in the few cases discussed in this thread, how about trimming? Were men allowed to shape their beards as long as the hair was not removed entirely?

I've never heard of trimming beards, so I can't say if it was ever done or not.
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Re: Shaving in the RoTK era

Unread postby Rydain » Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:14 am

Lady Wu wrote:
Rydain wrote:I don't have a specific source to cite, and I'm not sure how accurate my memory is. However, I recall reading about children's hair styles that involved some head shaving. Were these commonly worn in the RoTK era? If so, how did that mesh with the filial importance of hair? Did the no-shaving rule only kick in upon adolescence or adulthood?

I haven't heard that one--perhaps it's from the Qing dynasty? (The Manchu custom of shaving the front of the head and leaving a pigtail in the back really, really, didn't sit well with the Han Chinese.)

From what I've been seeing, it probably was a later custom.

Lady Wu wrote:
Although shaving was a no-no except in the few cases discussed in this thread, how about trimming? Were men allowed to shape their beards as long as the hair was not removed entirely?

I've never heard of trimming beards, so I can't say if it was ever done or not.

It very well may have been done. While I was looking around, I found this old post from Yun at China History Forum. (original thread link) Emphasis mine -

Han Chinese were not allowed to cut their hair because of filial piety, all the way until the Qing dynasty forced them to adopt the Manchu shaved-head-and-pigtail look. That was part of the reason for the fierce Han oppostion to the pigtail policy during the early Qing, which resulted in several rebellions. Men would tie their hair up in a topknot and enclose it with a headdress or cap (guan), while women would coif or plait it in various ways. However, shaving the beard or moustache was not considered unfilial, because one only developed them at puberty. Many Chinese men chose to grow out their beards and/or moustaches simply because they felt it looked good.

Thoughts? I'm no authority one way or the other, but the reasoning seems consistent to me because you are born with your head hair but not with your facial hair. This would also allow grooming for a neat appearance and practicality. When worn up all the time, untrimmed head hair looks sleek, stays out of the way, and avoids most wear and tear. Hair coverings help with that as well. Depending on the man's genetics, his facial hair might not be so easily maintainable without an occasional trim. From the experiences of friends with fast-growing facial hair, it tends to get scruffy and get in their mouth if they don't cut it often enough. Plus, teenage male facial hair can look patchy and awkward until the guy has enough follicle activation to grow a full beard or mustache. And some men never get beyond that patchy and awkward phase, even in adulthood.
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Re: Shaving in the RoTK era

Unread postby CaTigeReptile » Sat May 26, 2012 12:13 am

Bringing this thread back from the dead!

When went to the Terracotta Soldiers, the mannequins showing the mock-ups of how they were dressed all had facial hair, kind of like how all the terracotta soldiers themselves had different styles of facial hair.

When I went to the underground Han Tomb museum, the mannequins showing the mock-ups of how they were dressed did not have facial hair.In fact, almost none of the actual statues did, but since they were once also dressed in silk, it's possible that they had real hair facial hair that had disintegrated with time.

I asked the tour guide, though, and she said, "Well, probably the style of the time was to shave."

That's not much proof of anything, but I thought I'd just bring it up.
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Re: Shaving in the RoTK era

Unread postby GuoBia » Thu May 31, 2012 5:06 pm

Whooo! I think it's a great thread to bring up!!!

Actually, I think beard styling and maybe even beard shaving was present at the time. However, I don't have literary sources- just looking through artifacts, which I'm posting below.

Warning, image heavy.

Image
I think second from the right here might be beardless. I thought the smudge was a beard at first but I think it's just a smudge. Not sure about the guy second from the left, though. However, for comparison, Mr. Far Left has a spectacularly pointy beard.

Men with beards:
Image


Men without beards:
Image

This is either due to the stylization or that the men in reality had no beards.

There is no way that you can get facial hair like that without styling:
Image

The terracotta soldiers, from an older period yes but if shaving was present then it should have been present during the Han. Some of them look mature but were oddly clean-shaven. They definitely were not boys, but they didn't have beards either:

Image
No beard!

Image
'Statche yes, beard no

Image
Possible mustache, beard no.

Wait wait wait I found an instance of shaving!

Rafe's Tome...

"Xia Fu [Zizhi]; Chenliu. A scholar when he was young, Xia Fu was honest and straightforward, and gained local reputation by his refusal to recognise powerful families of his county. At the beginning of Emperor Huan's reign in 147 he was nominated as a man of Direct Speech, but he did not accept.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

At the time of the Second Faction Incident in 169, orders were sent for his arrest but he took refuge in the Taihang ranges, where he shaved off his beard for disguise and became the servant of a family of ironworkers."

I don't know enough to make anything out of this. However, if being beardless was that odd, he would probably have ruined his disguise by drawing attention to himself.

And a beard-related tidbit...

"Wen Xu exclaimed that even if he must die at the hands of such bandits he did not want his fine beard sullied by the ground. Stuffing his beard into his mouth, he fell on the sword."

Courageous and righteous yes. But man, between getting a bit of dirt in your beard and dying with a mouthful of beard...


Also, it seems that some Chinese guys really have trouble growing beards. Whereas one of my friends can sport stubble after not shaving for two days, another one of my friends... Uh, well, we call him catfish after the only two hairs that he can go. Go figure.
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Re: Shaving in the RoTK era

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:20 pm

So it sounds like the shaving of facial hair was permissible. Meanwhile within the Chinese genes there was variety on peoples ability to grow it!
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