Who would have thought the history of a monastic hairstyle could be so interesting?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/12/27/who-would-have-thought-the-his.html


I did (to answer your question)?


I saw this last night. It’s pretty cool. Just a reminder that EVERYTHING has a history worth exploring.


Either my grasp of English is failing me, or somebody didn’t reread themselves quite thoroughly enough…


Very interesting! When I took medieval art history in college, though, my professor said that the Irish monks shaved the fronts of their heads but not the backs. I wonder where she got that (or even if I’m remembering correctly).


It’s important to remember that what we often thing of as settled history (like the late classical or medieval periods) still goes through revisions, and what was once considered settled can be changed by new evidence or new insights into old evidence.


Certain tonsured heads also look like male-pattern baldness. I wonder if it was also an attempt to look venerable, seeing as folks didn’t live all that long back then?

I too read Art history. Pop Art I’m good on, Medieval history not so much…


Well, it’s not that people didn’t live as long, it’s that infant mortality was much higher, which pulls down the average. People would still generally lived through to their 60s or 70s, if they reach puberty (generally speaking). Doubly so for monks, because they were in a relatively privileged position. Many priests and monks were younger sons of elites…

As for the hair, it’s more about identifying who you were and where you belonged, not just fashion. See also sumptuary laws, which dictated what you could and could not wear based on your social position in a given society:

Note, though, I’m not a historian of the medieval era…


Thanks for the clear answer. I am a fan of “there are no stupid questions.” :slightly_smiling_face:


I thought everybody knew now that changing your analysis in the light of new evidence is FLIP-FLOPPING!

/s (just in case it’s necessary)

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I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no inherently boring subjects, and that a sufficiently enthusiastic and good explainer can make anything interesting. :slight_smile:


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