Welcome to our latest blog! We have been having fun looking at some amazing historical and cultural aspects of haircuts from around the world. Our focus currently lies in Asia, where we have been exploring the world of Street Barbers, Hindu rituals, and the first haircut Chinese babies receive. The Basha Miao village, in the Guizhou Province of China, has provided us with an amazing haircut ritual to wonder at. The first ceremonial haircut a child receives is somewhat extra memorable, not only because they are now entering ‘adulthood’, but also, the cut that the child receives is with an extra-sharp sickle! No soap, no lather, no water…nothing except the expertly gentle stroke of the sickle against the scalp.
The people of the village have been living the same way for thousands of years, guarding and protecting their ancient homeland, and have even been referred to as the “living terracotta warriors”. They are China’s last tribe of gunmen, whose ancestors were frontline troops who protected their treasured village from any hostility…including battling bears! Ancient traditions and customs are still followed in Basha Miao’s self-sufficient society, where rituals, clothing, and worship and celebration are all based around the trees that surround this wonderfully mystical place. Trees are worshipped in the sense that they give us life, and therefore we must protect them…makes sense really, doesn't it?? It is forbidden to cut down or damage an ancient tree, and there is punishment for any person who does so. When a baby is born, a new tree is planted in their honour, and when a person dies, ‘their’ tree is used to make the coffin.
Now, back to the hair cut…Between the ages of 7-15, young boys take part in their first ceremonial haircut, which welcomes them into adulthood. The boys also receive their first hunting rifle at aged 15, which reaffirms the boys transition to adulthood, and his ability to ‘protect’ his land and hunt wild animals. The tribe leader wets a sickle with water that has been used to boil eggs, and proceeds to shave off all of the hair, apart from the central part. This piece is left intact to enable the coiling of the hair to produce a topknot, which is an essential masculine feature of a Basha man. It is also said that the bun or braid that is left intact represents a tree. There is no use of shaving cream or even water during this procedure, with the blade gently skimming the scalp, allowing patches of hair to fall to the ground.
Now, although this haircut is not considered to be fashion-inspired, rather a proud cultural ritual, I think it’s safe to say that it’s definitely a style that has managed to inspire fashion!
Please join us for our next blog, which will feature some more weirdly wonderful stories and images that capture the essence of male grooming, from all over the world.