Chapter 1: Brief History of Hair | Bernstein Medical

Chapter 1 – Brief History of Hair

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Throughout history, hair has been an important symbol of gender, social, religious and professional status. The significance of hair is as great as that of clothing, jewelry, tattoos, weapons, and crowns. The importance of hair goes back at least as far as the Stone Age.

In 1991, a man’s body was found frozen in a glacier near the Austrian-Italian border. His hair was neatly cut to a length of 3.5 inches, and his beard was trimmed. Because he looked like a modern man, at first it was thought that he had died only a few years before. Upon examination of his clothing and weapons, archaeologists concluded that he had been frozen for more than 3,000 years. It is likely that trends and social mores of the time dictated that this preserved Neolithic man wear his hair in the fashionable cut and style of that age.

In Ancient Egypt, sons of the Pharaoh wore their hair tied in a distinctive bun on the right side of the head just behind the ear. The Pharaoh himself was never seen without a wig. Even today, male and female Parliamentary judges in England wear obviously artificial horsehair wigs when they preside in court.

The oldest known medical text is an Egyptian papyrus scroll. Its remedies include an ointment for restoring lost hair, consisting of equal parts crocodile fat and hippopotamus dung. The physician who wrote the text recommended that one rub this concoction into the bald scalp.

The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, recognized a connection between the sexual organs and baldness. He may have been the first to record the observation that eunuchs (men castrated before puberty) did not become bald. Hippocrates’ own baldness stimulated his interest in the subject of hair loss. His prescription for preventing hair loss was the application of a mixture of cumin, pigeon droppings, horseradish, and nettles to the scalp. In fact, the area of permanent hair that encircles the back and sides of the head is sometimes referred to as the “Hippocratic wreath.”

Dating back to Biblical times, the tale of Sampson is one of the familiar examples of man’s concern over hair loss. Sampson had the strength to destroy the Philistines as long as his hair remained long and uncut. As soon as Delilah cut his hair, he lost all of his strength.

Early Christian monks and priests shaved the hair on the crown of the head to create a tonsure. This highly visible mark symbolized their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem; it also expressed their personal dedication to God. During the Middle Ages, Christian society saw an emphasis of concern with the spiritual side of life and a studied neglect of physical functions. The tonsure became so extreme that, upon taking orders, a monk shaved his head almost completely bare,so that only a narrow fringe of hair remained encircling his head.

During the time of King Louis XIV of France, elaborate wigs became fashionable for the aristocracy. Some of these wigs incorporated paraphernalia such as model ships and cages with live birds. The more complex constructions often weighed 15-20 pounds. Known for luxuriant hair in his youth, King Louis began this practice and may have adopted the fashion to disguise his balding as he grew older. Elaborate wigs continued to be a symbol of social status until the middle of the eighteenth century.

Hair has also been an important symbol of rank and religion in Asia. Buddhist monks shaved their heads completely bald. Japanese Samurai warriors shaved the front and top of their heads and drew the long back and side hair into a complex topknot. Even modern day Sumo wrestlers wear their hair in a distinctive knot at the back, although they do not shave the front and top. The ubiquitous queue or pigtail of Chinese men, a long single braid worn down the back, was a symbol of their bondage to a lord, landowner, or to the Emperor. Most urban Chinese men cut off their queues after the revolution in 1920, but the custom persisted in the countryside. During the revolution, any man found wearing a queue was publicly humiliated, with his hair cut off and burned.

Today, hair continues to be an important part of self-expression as it functions as a symbol of attitude, culture, and religion. For both men and women, hair is important to one’s self-image and identity. Hair – a mere outgrowth of dead cells from the surface of the skin – has become a powerful social currency and a universal symbol of beauty, vitality and youth.

Continue reading this hair transplant book:
Chapter 2 – Hair and Its Functions »»

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Brief History of Hair
Chapter 2 Hair and Its Functions
Chapter 3 Causes of Hair Loss
Chapter 4 Hereditary Baldness
Chapter 5 Psychology of Hair Loss
Chapter 6 Hair Loss Medications
Chapter 7 Hair Transplant Basics
Chapter 8 Follicular Unit Transplantation
Chapter 9 Follicular Unit Extraction
Chapter 10 Master Plan for Restoring Hair
Chapter 11 Goals and Expectations
Chapter 12 Numbers of Grafts Needed
Chapter 13 Hair Transplant Repair
Chapter 14 Hair Loss in Women
Chapter 15 Hair Systems and Camouflage
Chapter 16 Preparing for a Hair Transplant
Chapter 17 The Hair Restoration Procedure
Chapter 18 What to Expect Following Surgery
Chapter 19 Hair Transplant Fallacies
Chapter 20 Choosing Your Doctor
A Final Note  
About the Author  

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