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Hair

HAIR

"Hair is the crowning glory"this old double-play of words emphasizes the significance of hair for men and women. From a physiological point of view, hair provides mechanical protection, insulation, and a wick effect for the dispersal of lubricating sebum and sweat over the adjacent skin. The personalization of hair as a means of defining individual (or group) identity is of equally importance in many societies. It has fundamental social and cultural significance for the individual.

The structure of hair and its growth

The structure of hair is analogous to a plant bulb. The whole unit, with its immediate surrounding, is termed a follicle (see Figure 1). The plant bulb is equivalent to the bulbous hair germ, while the sprouting plant is equivalent to the hair. A plant bulb, which is dormant near the soil surface during the winter, begins to sprout in the spring. It moves deeper into the earth and then grows into a full plant, which lasts over the summer. In the fall, the plant shrivels and is detached. The bulb then goes into a resting phase and resprouts the next spring.

The three phases of the hair life-cycle are equivalent (see Figure 1) and are termed anagen (growing phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting phase). The lustrous scalps of young adulthood have about 100,000 hairs, blondes having more and redheads less. This number declines in healthy individuals to forty to fifty thousand hairs between the ages of thirty and fifty, at which time the apparent bulk of the hair is 50 percent thinner.

Normally, about 90 percent of hair is in the anagen phase and 10 percent in the telogen phase. Hair is shed daily, with a loss of fifty to one hundred hairsoften found on a brush or pillow as club (the small knob on the root end) hairs.

The number of hair follicles is the same in men and women. No new ones develop after fetal life. The juvenile soft hair of childhood becomes the firmer and more lustrous terminal hair of adolescence.

Changes with age

The number of active follicles declines by 30 to 50 percent between the ages of thirty and fifty. This is associated with a decline of male-type hormonal substances. The hair becomes sparser and the sebaceous (grease) gland enlarges. The gland output is reduced by as much as 30 percent in women, but this is more variable and sometimes increased in men.

The graying of hair

Melanin is the brown pigment produced by cells termed melanocytes. These cells lie in the bottom layer of the epidermis. The amount of dark pigment that is produced declines with age. At the same time, the central medullary space of the shaft enlarges. Light reflection from the cell surfaces of the cuticle and cortex is also increased. The combination of these changes is generally accepted as the cause of hair graying with age. It is more obvious in dark-haired individuals but appears more complete in lighter haired individuals. The whole process is under genetic control.

There are racial variations. While graying appears as early as twenty years of age in Caucasians and at thirty in Africans, the first appearance of gray hair generally occurs at around thirty-five in Caucasians. By age fifty, 50 percent of the population has some degree of significant graying. The process starts about five years later in Africans, and five years earlier in Japanese. Beard and moustache hair changes before the scalp and body hair. On the scalp, the temple hair grays first, followed by the crown and then back of the scalp. The whole process is a normal physiological change. In any given individual, the age at which graying becomes noticed, and the rate of graying, is not related to the overall rate of biological aging.

Baldness

The most common cause of balding, by far, is physiological. The firm terminal hair of mature adulthood is replaced by soft vellus haira relic of the first immature hair of infancy and early childhood. This process is under genetic control, with inherited influence on male-type hormones. The onset can be as young as seventeen in males and in the mid-twenties in females. In general, the areas that are the last to get terminal hair are the first to lose it (see Figure 2). The average of onset in males is in the late twenties and in females in the mid-thirties (see Figure 3).

Reversible hair loss. Physiological balding is not reversible, but there are other types of balding that are reversible. For example, the hair shaft can break because of fungal infection or from repeated peroxide bleaching.

Hair can fall prematurely from the follicle. This is termed telogen effluvium. It can follow an infective illness, or from some other mild toxic process that occurred six to eight weeks beforehand. The hair suddenly falls out in unusual amounts, leaving a thin scalp covering. Previously unnoticed physiological baldness may then be revealed, sometimes causing anxiety. Telogen effluvium is self-limiting, although in some cases the problem continues for a number of years before ceasing spontaneously. Rarer causes relate to hormone irregularity, particularly, thyroid hormones. Dietary factors, such as a general food deficiency, protein deficiency, low blood iron, or, more rarely, low zinc levels, are sometimes responsible. A sudden unexplained onset in older patients always raises concern of an underlying malignancy.

Alopecia areata is a harmless form of patchy baldness that can occur at any time of life. The hair ceases to grow in its mid-anagen cycle and falls out. Usually there are solitary or multiple round patches of baldness, but it can be widespread over the scalp, mimicking other forms of diffuse hair loss. When there is apparent loss of the hair follicle, this condition is termed scarring alopecia. Sometimes the follicle opening cannot be seen in normal balding. Burns caused by heat or chemicals can destroy the hair root, as well as some chronic inflammatory conditions. The cause of hair loss can be complex, and assessment by a knowledgeable physician is often required.

Common scalp nuisances of older persons

There are two common irritations of the scalp that may be associated with temporary hair loss: psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, which is commonly known as dandruff.

Two percent of the population have psoriasis at any given time. Its cause is not known, although constitutional factors play an important role, as do other trigger factors. Psoriasis can appear at any time in life. It frequently occurs in adults as sharp-edged scaly red patches on the elbows and knees. It can be more extensive over the trunk and limbs, and can also affect the body folds. Discrete patches can occur on the scalp and occasionally involve the whole scalp. Psoriasis can sometimes be itchy. Tar shampoos can give relief if used on a daily basis, and there are other remedies than are available by prescription, though no permanent cure exists.

Seborrheic dermatitis develops after adolescence. With this condition, the scalp is excessively scaly and greasy, and can be intolerably itchy. Those with greasy coarse-pored skin are more prone to seborrheic dermatitis, and older men are affected more than women. Greasy yellowish scales are found in patches, or are diffuse about the scalp. The skin may be red and inflamed. It may also be present on the hairy areas of the face, on the forehead, or down the broad folds at the side of the nose. Its cause is not fully known, but there is a sensitivity in some people to a naturally occurring, common yeast that overgrows in the scalp skin. Tar shampoo used on a regular basis, or a sulphur-releasing shampoo used intermittently, can be helpful.

General care of the older scalp

The scalps of older persons deserve as much attention as those of younger people. Appropriate grooming, including washing, combing, and brushing is required for a healthy scalp. Normal cosmetic attention, including waving and setting, should not impair scalp health, so long as there is not undue tension on the hair. Dyeing and other forms of hair coloring can also be used without adverse consequences.

J. Barrie Ross

See also Andropause; Menopause; Skin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arndt, K. A.; Robinson, J. K.; Leboit, P. E.; and Wintroub, B. U. Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, section 8, pages 12451294. Philadelphia, Pa.: W. B. Saunders, 1996.

Champion, R. H.; Burton, J. L.; Burns, D. A.; and Breathnach, S. M. Textbook of Dermatology, 6th ed. Edited by Rook/Wilkinson/Ebling. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1998.

Sinclair, R. D.; Banfield, C. C.; and Dawber, R. P. R. Handbook of Diseases of the Hair and Scalp. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1999.

Whiting, D. A. "Chronic Telogen Effluvium: Increased Scalp Hair Shedding in Middle-Aged Women." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 35 (1996): 899906.

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hair

hair is present in differing degrees on all mammals, and its most important function in those other than human is to conserve body heat by insulating against cold. Humans are the most hairless of all mammals, and yet hair occupies a central place in human development and sense of self. Whether it is the gradual decrease of hair leading to male baldness, the loss of pigment leading to white or grey hairs and signalling the onset of middle age, or the adolescent desire for the pubic hair that signals approaching adulthood, hair often tells others something about our place in culture.

Hair types and styles have, at various times, in various countries and on various continents, come to be associated with definitions of race, the possibility of being or becoming the right kind of woman, with radicalism or revolution, and with the right to occupy a particular social space in a class hierarchy. While often discussed as a personal statement of style or fashion, humanity's relationship to hair is far more complicated.

During the monarchy in France, the prince's hair, for example, was never cut — it was curled and pampered. Rastafarian followers of the early twentieth-century Ethiopian religious leader Haile Selassie not only refused to cut theirs, but were forbidden to comb it either. Early records indicate that the ancient Egyptians, men and women alike, shaved their hair off and wore wigs. Prostitutes in Nazi Germany were forced to shave off their hair so they could be easily identified and shamed. In the post-war period, women who had collaborated with the Nazis were similarly forced to shave their heads. Delila cut off Samson's long hair so that she could strip him of his fabled strength and power. As a sign of respect for the law and British custom, judges and lawyers during America's colonial period wore powdered wigs over their natural hair. Rapunzel let her hair cascade out of a window and down a tower so that Prince Charming might climb up and rescue her from imprisonment. Among the Yoruba people, hair signifies aesthetic value; and for East African pastoral peoples, such as the Pokot and Samburu, its styling indicates age status. A 1970s American Broadway musical, Hair, received numerous awards and set records for attendance.

Individual human hairs vary in colour, diameter, and contour. The different colours result from variations in the amount, distribution, and type of melanin pigment in them, as well as from variations in surface structure that cause light to be reflected in different ways. Hairs may be coarse, or so thin and colourless as to be nearly invisible. Straight hairs are round in cross section, while wavy hairs are alternately oval and round; very curly and kinky hairs are shaped like twisted ribbons. During the nineteenth century, renowned social scientists posited relationships between some of these variations in hair type and intelligence, or the potential for civilized behaviour, and indeed, in some instances, saw them as a marker of humanness.

In his 1848 Natural History of the Human Species, Charles Hamilton Smith, for example, suggested that hair type is crucial for defining the three typical ‘stocks’, or races, of mankind: the bearded Caucasian, the beardless Mongolian, and the woolly-haired Negro. His work included a chart which positions the ‘woolly-haired’ at the base of a triangular hierarchy and the Caucasians at the apex. Smith's ‘woolly-haired race’ became a metaphor for African physical traits which served prima facie as evidence of racial difference, such as mental ‘lack’, and as a justification for slavery and racial discrimination. The lingering effects of such pseudo-scientific theories may help to explain why people of African descent continue to spend billions of dollars each year trying chemically to alter the texture of their hair in order to make it straight, as opposed to ‘woolly’.

Each hair grows from a hair follicle in the deep layer of the skin. There are different types of hair at different stages in life, and in different parts of the body. The first to develop is the lanugo, a layer of downy, slender hairs that begin growing in the third or fourth month of fetal life and are entirely shed either before or shortly after birth. During the first few months of infancy appears fine, short, unpigmented hairs called down hair, or vellus. Vellus covers every part of the body except the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, undersurfaces of the fingers and toes, and a few other places. At and following puberty, this hair is supplemented by longer, coarser, more heavily pigmented hair, called terminal hair, that develops in the armpits, genital regions, and, in males, on the face and sometimes on parts of the trunk and limbs. The growth and the distribution of hair are under the influence of the sex hormones. The hair of the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes are of separate type and develop fairly early in life. On the scalp, where hair is usually densest and longest, the average total number of hairs is between 100 000 and 150 000. Human hair grows at a rate of 10–13 mm/month. While hair texture and type was of importance for nineteenth-century social scientists in the shaping of racial hierarchies, for middle-class women in Christian countries, hair length has been important in the shaping of hierarchies of femininity. In part due to a passage in the King James version of the Bible (‘if a woman have long hair, it is Glory to Her’ 1 Cor: 11–15), such women the world over have often been urged by society at large, and by patriarchs in their individual households, to wear their hair in long, precisely styled hair-dos that they refrained from cutting. During the Victorian period the long, elaborately-styled hairdos favoured by the middle classes signalled wealth, leisure time, and modesty (it was almost impossible for a woman to fix her hair in one of the fashionable styles without the paid help of a hairdresser, and the styling could often take three hours or more). During the 1920s, women who ‘bobbed’ or cut their hair to ear length caused a furore in Europe and the US. The new hair style, which went hand in hand with shockingly at, or above, the knee skirt lengths was seen as immodest and outside of prevailing standards of decency. This was true in part because bobbed hair was immediately favoured by women in the ‘world's oldest profession’ due to its ease of care.

By the late 1960s, long hair came to be back in vogue amongst male and female youth in America. However, far from being a return to the earlier ideals of propriety often associated with long hair, lengthy hair now denoted a counter culture or radical stance in both white and black communities. One of the surest ways for white teenagers and young adults to identify themselves as in rebellion against prevailing middle-class ideals and culture, and governmental political strategies, was to wear their hair in the long, straight styles favoured by hippies, flower children, and political activists. During this same period afros came to be a popular style in African–American communities. The afro was understood to denote black pride, which became synonymous with black nationalism, activism, and a radical political consciousness. This sentiment moved sharply against the prevailing integrationist ideology and evidenced a belief that the gains of the Civil Rights Movement were not broad-based enough, and was a style favoured by radical groups like the Black Panthers.

In addition to the presence or absence of hair, hair texture and styling have played a long and important role in human history. It is not clear just why hair has come to mean so very much to so many people, but there is no mistaking the important role that hair has played in the process of identifying a relationship to a particular culture or subculture. Hair can lead to acceptance or rejection by certain groups and social classes, and its styling can enhance or detract from career advancement. What many envision as a personal statement is also implicated in an intricate web of religious and social politics.

Noliwe Rooks


See also baldness; sex hormones; skin.

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Hair

193. Hair

See also 33. BALDNESS ; 37. BEARDS

alopecia
1. a loss of hair, feathers, or wool.
2. baldness. alopecic, adj.
chaetophobia
an abnormal fear of hair.
crinosity
the state of being hairy. crinous, adj.
electrology
the use of electrolysis for removing moles, warts, or excess hair. electrologist, n.
hirsutism
1. a condition of shaggy hairiness.
2. Biology. the state of being covered with long, stiff hairs. hirsute, adj.
hispidity
the state or quality of being covered with small spines or bristles. hispid, adj.
hypertrichosis
a condition of excessive hairiness either all over the body or covering a particular part.
Leiotrichi
people with smooth hair; a division of mankind characterized by people with such hair. Cf. Ulotrichi. Leiotrichan, adj.
madarosis
the loss of hair, especially of the eyelashes, as a result of disease.
madisterium
a surgical instrument for pulling out hairs.
melanosity
darkness or blackness of eyes, hair, or complexion.
pilosism, pilosity
an excessive hairiness; furriness. pilose, adj.
psilosis
falling out of the hair.
schizotrichia
a condition of splitting of the hair.
tonsure
1. the act or process of cutting the hair, especially as a religious rite or custom.
2. the shaved part of the head, usually the crown, of a member of a religious order. tonsorial, adj.
trichiasis
a condition in which the hair grows inward, especially the eyelashes.
trichoanesthesia
Medicine. a loss of hair sensibility.
trichobezoar
a hairball.
trichoclasia
a condition of extreme brittleness of the hair, often following an illness.
trichology
Medicine. the scientific study of hair and its diseases. trichologist, n.
trichoma
a condition of the hair in which it is matted or crusted.
trichomania
an obsession with hair.
trichomycosis
any disease of the hair caused by a fungus.
trichopathy
Medicine. any disease of the hair. trichopathic, adj.
trichophagy
the practice of eating hair.
trichorrhexomania
a mania for pinching off ones hair.
trichosis
1. Medicine. any disease or abnormal growth of the hair.
2. a heavy growth of hair.
trichotillomania
Medicine. an abnormal desire to pull out ones own hair, especially by delirious patients. Also called trichologia.
Ulotrichi
people with woolly, tightly curled, or crisp hair; a division of mankind characterized by people with such hair. Cf. Leiotrichi. ulotrichous, adj.
villosity
the condition or quality of being covered with long, soft hairs, as certain plants, or hairlike appendages, as certain of the membranes of the body. villous, adj.
xanthochroid
a person with light-colored hair and fair complexion. xanthochroid, xanthochroous, adj.

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hair

hair, slender threadlike outgrowth from the skin of mammals. In some animals hair grows in dense profusion and is called fur or wool. Although all mammals show some indication of hair formation, dense hair is more common among species located in colder climates and has the obvious function of insulation against the cold. Other functions include camouflage and protection against dust and sand. The long, sensitive hairs, called tactile hairs, that are located around the mouth area of most mammals are extremely sensitive to touch. Each hair filament originates in a deep pouchlike depression of the epidermis, called a hair follicle, which penetrates into the dermis. The root of the hair extends down into the hair follicle and widens into an indented bulb at its base. Extending into the indentation is the papilla, the center of hair growth, which contains the capillaries and nerves that supply the hair. Newly dividing cells at the base of the hair multiply, forcing the cells above them upward. As the cells move upward, they gradually die and harden into the hair shaft. The hair shaft has two layers, the cuticle and the cortex. The cuticle (outer layer) consists of flat, colorless overlapping cells; below the cuticle is the cortex, containing pigment and a tough protein called keratin; it forms the bulk of the hair shaft. Coarse hair, such as that of the scalp, contains an additional inner core called the medulla. Hair is lubricated by sebaceous glands that are located in the hair follicle. Illness or stress may lessen the secretion of pigment, which normally gives color to hair, and cause the hair shaft to whiten. However, the normal process of whitening that comes with age is determined by heredity. In humans, scalp hairs are generally shed every two to four years, while body hairs are shed more frequently. Straight-textured hair, round in cross section, is common among Native Americans, Eskimos, and Mongolic peoples. Kinky or woolly hair, flat in cross section, prevails among the dark peoples of Africa, Australia, and elsewhere. Wavy or curly hair, common among Caucasians, is oval in cross section. The color of hair is determined by the amount of pigment and air spaces in the cortex and medulla. Hair color and texture are inherited characteristics.

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Hair

Hair. Hair is a visible and continuous sign of growth (or, in its cessation, of the approach of death), and as an indication of vigour, it lends itself to various statements of relationship to God or to other goals—e.g., the Nazirite vow in Judaism. Christianity adopted a sign of dedication in the opposite direction, by introducing the tonsure, the shaving of the top of the head of priests and monks. Tonsure has taken different forms, from the shaving of the whole head to only a part, often leaving a fringe to draw out the symbolism of the crown of thorns.

In E. religions, comparable contrasts can be found. Thus among Hindus, keśāntah, the first shaving of the beard, is one of the saṃskāras; but a Hindu ascetic will leave his hair long and matted (juṭā): Śiva, in particular, displays his contrasted modes of activity through the style of his hair. Among Sikhs, a Khālsā Sikh is prohibited from cutting hair from any part of his body, and keś is one of the Five Ks. Among Rastafarians, a similar message of identity is sent through hairstyle, but this may be by ‘dreadlocks’ or by careful cutting (for the long locks of Jews see PEOT). A further extension can be seen in care taken to cover the head—for example, in the custom for some Jewish women of wearing a wig (shaytl/sheitel) in public (see HEAD, COVERING OF).

To bring order into this diversity, E. Leach (‘Magical Hair’), Journ. of the R. Anth. Inst. 1958) argued that the treatment of hair denotes social responses related to ideal social categories. Thus long hair is related to unrestrained sexuality, short or tightly bound hair is related to restricted sexuality, closely shaved hair is related to celibacy. C. R. Hallpike (‘Social Hair’, Man, 1969) argued that hair rituals cannot be mapped on to sexual opportunity alone. In his view, the treatment indicates relation to the acceptance or rejection of social control.

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Hair

314. Hair

  1. Absalom hair entangled in branches, he was left dangling. [O.T.: II Samuel 18:9]
  2. Aslaug used hair as cloak to meet king. [Norse Myth.: Walsh Classical, 35]
  3. Beatles famous English rock group whose initial appeal was derived partly from their moplike haircuts. [Br. Hist.: NCE, 253]
  4. Bes shaggy-haired, shortlegged god with tail. [Egyptian Myth.: Leach, 138]
  5. Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody, 18461917) American cowboy and showman whose image was fortified by his long blond hair. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 390]
  6. Cousin Itt Addamss relative; four feet tall and completely covered with blond hair. [TV: The Addams Family in Terrace, I, 29]
  7. Custer, General George (18391876) American army officer whose image included long, yellowish hair. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 701]
  8. Enkidu hirsute companion of Gilgamesh. [Babyl. Myth.: Gilgamesh ]
  9. Godiva, Lady (d. 1057) Leofrics wife who rode through Coventry clothed only in her long, golden hair. [Br. Hist.: Payton, 274]
  10. Gruagach the hairy one; fairy lady. [Scot. Folklore: Briggs, 206207]
  11. hippies 1960s dropouts of American culture usually identified with very long hair adorned with flowers. [Popular Culture: Misc.]
  12. Hair rock musical celebrating youthful exuberance as evidenced by growing long hair. [Am. Mus.: On Stage, 517]
  13. Mullach, Meg long-haired and hairy-handed brownie. [Scot. Folklore: Briggs, 284285]
  14. Rapunzel her golden tresses provide access to tower loft. [Ger. Fairy Tale: Rapunzel ]
  15. Samson the Hercules of the Israelites; rendered powerless when Delilah cut off his hair. [O.T.: Judges 1316]

Happiness (See JOY .)

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Hair

Hair

Hair has had an occult significance since ancient times. It seems to have a life of its own, since it may continue to grow after the death of the body. It has been regarded as a source of strength and sexuality and has played a part in religion and magical rituals. The Hebrews developed a number of customs relative to hair that served to separate them from their pagan neighbors, a fact which is played out in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judg. 16:4-22)

In various cultures, individuals dedicated to service of the priesthood have undergone ritual cutting of hair, and the tonsure of priests is said to have originated in Egypt (see the writings of Herodotus). In Hinduism, there are hair rituals for youths, and those who become celibates have their heads formally shaven. The association of hair with sexuality has given hair as a symbol remarkable force, and distinctions between male and female hair have emphasized sexual attraction.

Since the hair is believed to be intimately related to the life of an individual, it has magical significance in witchcraft rituals, and people in many civilizations have been at pains to prevent their hair from falling into the hands of an enemy, who might use it for black magic.

There is even a school of character reading from the hair, known as trichsomancy.

Extreme fright or ecstatic states have caused hair to literally "stand on end" in the goose-flesh condition of horripilation.

Sources:

Berg, Charles. The Unconscious Significance of Hair. London: Allen & Unwin, 1951.

Cooper, Wendy. Hair: Sex Society Symbolism. London: Aldus Book, 1971.

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hair

hair / he(ə)r/ • n. 1. any of the fine threadlike strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals. ∎  a similar strand growing from the epidermis of a plant, or forming part of a living cell. ∎  (a hair) a very small quantity or extent: his magic takes him a hair above the competition. 2. such strands collectively, esp. those growing on a person's head: a woman with shoulder-length fair hair | [as adj.] a hair salon. ∎  the styling or dressing of a person's hair: hair and makeup by Terry. PHRASES: hair of the dog inf. an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover. a hair's breadth a very small amount or margin: you escaped death by a hair's breadth. in (or out of) someone's hair inf. annoying (or ceasing to annoy) someone: I'm glad he's out of my hair. let one's hair down inf. behave in an uninhibited or relaxed manner: let your hair down and just have some fun. make someone's hair stand on end alarm or horrify someone. not a hair out of place (of a person) extremely neat and tidy in appearance. not turn a hair remain apparently unmoved or unaffected: the old woman didn't turn a hair; she just sat quietly rocking. put hair on one's chest inf. (of an alcoholic drink) be very strong. split hairs make small and overfine distinctions.DERIVATIVES: haired adj. [in comb.] a curly-haired boy. hair·less adj. hair·like adj.

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hair

hair a hair is traditionally used as the type of something of extremely small magnitude, value, or measure, the slightest thing, the least degree. The sword over Damocles's head is suspended by a single hair.

In classical and biblical stories a person's hair may have sacred significance; Berenice's hair was dedicated as an offering for her husband's safe return from war, and Nisus, king of Megara (see Nisus1) was vulnerable to betrayal when his daughter Scylla cut off his lock of purple hair. In the Bible, Samson's strength lay in his hair, and Absalom, admired for his long hair, was able to be killed when it caught in the branches of a tree.
hair of the dog that bit you an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover, from the former belief that such a hair was an efficacious remedy against the bite of a mad dog.
hair shirt a shirt of haircloth, formerly worn by penitents and ascetics.
split hairs make small and overfine distinctions.

See also bad hair day, beauty draws with a single hair, straws in one's hair.

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hair

hair Threadlike structure covering the skin of mammals. It has insulating, protective and sensory functions. Hair grows in a follicle, extending down through the epidermis to the dermis. New cells are added to the base of the hair; older hair cells become impregnated with keratin and die. Hair colour depends on the presence of melanin in the hair cells. A small muscle attached to the base of the hair allows it to be erected in response to nerve signals sent to the follicle. Erecting the hairs traps a thicker layer of air close to the skin, which acts as insulation. See also fur

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hair

hair (hair) n. a threadlike keratinized outgrowth of the epidermis of the skin. The root of the hair, beneath the surface of the skin, is expanded at its base to form the bulb, which contains a matrix of dividing cells. As new cells are formed the older ones are pushed upwards and become keratinized to form the root and shaft. h. follicle a sheath of epidermal cells and connective tissue that surrounds the root of a hair. h. papilla a projection of the dermis that is surrounded by the base of the hair bulb. It contains the capillaries that supply blood to the growing hair.

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hair

hair
1. A multicellular threadlike structure, consisting of many dead keratinized cells, that is produced by the epidermis in mammalian skin. The section of a hair below the skin surface (the root) is contained within a hair follicle, the base of which produces the hair cells. Hair assists in maintaining body temperature by reducing heat loss from the skin. Bristles and whiskers are specialized types of hair.

2. Any of various threadlike structures on plants, such as a trichome.

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hair

hair OE. hǣr, hēr = OS., OHG. hār (Du., G. haar), ON. hár :- Gmc. *χǣram, of unkn. orig. The present sp. and pronunc. are abnormal (for *here or *hear) and are supposed to be due to assim. to †haire hair shirt — (O)F., of Gmc. orig.
Hence hair(s)breadth XVI (earlier hairbrede XV). hairy XIII.

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hair

hairaffair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

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Hair

HAIR

HAIR . Words are related to the things they denote only by the conventions of language, but symbols, unlike words, are inherently appropriate to what they signify. Thus, since most animals are much hairier than human beings, some cultures may use this difference to express the distinction between the realms of nature and culture, as in myths that describe the first men as very hairy, and also as ignorant of fire and of the rules of correct behavior toward their kin. But symbolic meanings are not simple reflections of natural phenomena. So, in other societies, the symbolic opposition between "hairy" and "hairless" may be related not to the distinction between nature and culture but rather to the categories of youth and age; in this case "hairy" will symbolize the health and vitality of young people, whereas "hairless" will signify the baldness and infirmity of old age. Again, we may find that long hair is considered appropriate to the female sex because it appears soft and rounded, while close-cropped hair is associated with males because it allows the shape of the skull to appear, giving an appropriately hard and angular appearance. Or again, short hair may express puritan values, and long hair their opposite. So, opposition between the hairy and the hairless may symbolize such diverse categorical relations as animal and human, youth and age, male and female, and puritan and worldly. It is also quite possible for one and the same symbolic use of hair to have several different meanings simultaneously.

All symbolism accommodates to the natural properties and associations of objects, but it also assimilates these properties and associations into cultural systems of meaning in a selective, creative, and coherent way. Because symbols are derived from man's interaction with the physical world, we must also be alert to the possibility that an apparently symbolic custom is really nothing more than a practical expedient. In some African societies, for example, the shaving of children's heads has no symbolic meaning and is merely undertaken to prevent lice. On the other hand, we must not assume too readily that practical explanations such as hygiene will normally be adequate to explain the symbolic uses of hair.

In attempting to explain the different symbolic uses of hair, then, we must keep in mind its basic properties and associations, especially its associations with animals, with growth and vitality, and with youth and puberty as opposed to old age. That it has great potential for manipulation, can be cut painlessly, and is closely associated with two socially significant areas of the bodythe head and the genitalsis also of great importance. Because of this variety of properties and associations, no single theory can account for all symbolic uses of hair. But there are, nevertheless, a limited number of themes in hair symbolism that are found all over the world.

Hair Symbolism in Freudian Theory

Freudian theory maintains that the head is a phallic symbol, that the hair symbolizes semen, and that haircutting is a symbolic castration. In some instances, the head and its hair do clearly have explicit sexual associations. In ancient Greek and Roman belief, the head was the source of semen in the form of cerebrospinal fluid, and hair was an indication of sexual vigor. The same belief is held by the Punjabis of India, who suppose that true ascetics are able to store up their semen and concentrate it in the form of spiritual power at the top of their heads. Quite apart from these physiological beliefs, the head resembles the genitoanal region because these are the only two areas of the body with orifices, and each embraces radically opposed functions: social relations on the one hand, and physical functions on the other. Because the realm of nature confronts that of the social and the intellectual so blatantly in these two regions, it is not surprising that they can be substituted for one another in humor, in magical and religious contexts, and in popular and prescientific sexual lore. Thus the nose and tongue become analogues of the penis; the eyes represent the testicles; the mouth and ear correspond to the vagina or anus; and head hair corresponds to pubic hair. It may be for this reason that among the Chickrí of central Brazil a woman may wear her hair long only after the birth of her first child and that in traditional Dobuan society of the wastern Pacific an adulterer would publicly cut the hair of a woman he had seduced if he wished to defy her husband. In that society care of the hair is a reciprocal service between spouses and is associated with sexual intercourse.

Sexual potency, however, is only one aspect of vitality, physical strength, and animality in general. Samson's strength lay in his hair, but we have no warrant for attributing any narrowly sexual significance to the association, nor for regarding the cutting of his hair as castration. There are, in addition, numerous symbolic acts of haircutting that are even less plausibly interpreted as castration, such as cutting women's hair at marriage and the shaving of infant boys, slaves, military recruits, pilgrims, and returning travelers. Further, we find certain categories of persons, such as religious ascetics, who do not cut their hair but who conventionally abstain from all sexual relations, while the stereotype of the long-haired intellectual in our own culture is entirely free of any erotic association. The Freudian hypothesis cannot therefore be supported by the facts, except in a few instances.

Hair as a Symbol of Animality, Strength, and the Supernatural

As already noted, hair is a prominent feature of animals, and the persistent growth of hair, most noticeably on the head, is analogous to the growth of vegetation. Not surprisingly, therefore, hair is a common symbol of vitality, physical strength, nature, and supernatural beings or forces closely associated with nature. The culture hero Dribidu of the Lugbara tribe of Uganda is a good example of this association. The culture heroes were not members of clans, like modern Lugbara, but lived in isolation in a world without clans. Dribidu means "the hairy one," for this culture hero had long hair over most of his body. He was also known as Banyale ("eater of men"), since he ate his own children. In a myth of the Kukukuku of Papua, men at first had long hair all over their bodies and were ignorant of fire, cooking their food over women's genitals. When they were shown how to make fire and to cook their food over it in the ordinary way, the long hair fell off their bodies and they became fully human.

In Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature (Copenhagen, 1955), there are twenty instances of hairiness associated with supernatural or half-human beings such as fairies, dwarfs, giants, water and wood spirits, devils, and mermaids; seven associations with animal-human relationships; three with vegetable-human relationships; three with witches; seven with the soul or vitality; and six with asceticism. The ascetic, particularly the solitary anchorite of fourth-century Egypt and Syria or the Hindu sanyāsin, abandons ordinary society and even the company of fellow ascetics to lead a completely solitary life, frequently naked and unkempt. In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (17761788), the historian Edward Gibbon wrote of the anchorites of the Egyptian desert:

All superfluous incumbrance of dress they contemptuously cast away, and some savage saints of both sexes have been admired, whose naked bodies were only covered with their long hair. They aspired to reduce themselves to the rude and miserable state in which the human brute is scarcely distinguished above his kindred animals. They often usurped the den of some wild beast whom they affected to resemble. (chap. 37)

Hair, particularly of the head and beard, is often believed to be the seat of physical strength and supernatural power, the two of which may not be clearly differentiated. The early Frankish kings, who were essentially warriors, were celebrated for their long hair, which was a distinctive mark of their royal status, so that cutting the hair disqualified a member of the royal family from succession to the throne. Maori chiefs were also forbidden to cut their hair, as were the priests of a number of societies, such as the Aztec and the two moieties of the Borana Galla of Ethiopia. Divine beings may likewise be represented as long-haired. The Aryans so depicted the sun, whom they also described as having flaming or golden hair. The Egyptians referred to the sun god Re as adorned with golden locks. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the persecution of witches was at its height in Europe, it was believed that the power to bewitch lay especially in the hair. Accordingly, it was standard practice not only to shave witches' heads but to depilate their entire bodies in order to render them harmless before execution. For centuries it was also customary to shave the heads and bodies of the insane.

Haircutting, Social Control, and Initiation

Insofar as the hair is an expression of life, strength, and magical and religious power or is associated with animality or the condition of being in some way outside society, cutting or shaving the hair is an appropriate symbol for the imposition of some form of social discipline or restraint and is also a means of signifying a person's transition from one social status to another. In this context haircutting, like the cooking of food, is a fitting metaphor for the imposition of social control on nature, and also for transition and rites of passage in general.

Orlando Patterson, in his Slavery and Social Death (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), notes the ubiquity of the shorn head as the mark of the slave:

In Africa we find the shorn head associated with slaves among peoples as varied as the Ila and the Somali. In China, in highland Burma, among the primitive Germanic peoples, the nineteenth century Russians, the Indians of the northwest coast, and several of the South American and Caribbean tribes, the heads of slaves were shorn (in the ancient Near East so was the pubic hair of female slaves). In India and pharaonic Egypt slaves wore their hair shorn except for a pigtail dangling from the crown. (p.60)

In the Americas, however, slaves were not shorn, because the characteristic hair type of the African was a more effective indicator of servile status. The shaving of the head has also been prominently associated with the punishment of criminals, as in the pillory, and as a mark of convict status. In modern times it has been closely associated with military discipline, especially as an initiation rite for recruits, and in tribal societies boys often have their hair cut as part of their initiation into adult status.

Haircutting may also be an initiation into society. When a son is born to him, a Muslim has seven obligations, according to Julian Morgenstern: to give the newborn a name; to cut his hair; to give as alms the weight of the hair in silver or gold; to sacrifice an animal; to smear the baby's head with saffron; to circumcise him; and to distribute to the neighbors portions of the animal sacrificed (Morgenstern, 1966, p. 41). The convert to Islam from an unsanctified religion, in addition to being washed or anointed with water, might also have his hair cut off. Muslim travelers returning from long and dangerous journeys, as well as pilgrims, cut off their hair. Participation in sacred events may have been regarded in some societies as taking place outside society; thus it was forbidden to cut one's hair until the end of the Passover and Sukkot festivals, and a traditional English superstition held that it was unlucky to cut one's hair on a Sunday.

The Bible provides a number of instances of hair symbolism in which hairiness is associated with the life of the hunter, wild beasts, physical strength, rebellion, or special sanctity, while cutting or shaving the head is associated with rejoining society, with submission to some specific authority within society, or with a rite of passage. Esau, the hunter of wild beasts, was a hairy man, while his brother Jacob, a herdsman dwelling in tents, was a smooth man (Gn. 25:2327). In Leviticus, it is prescribed that when a leper, by definition an outcast, is cured and ready to be reincorporated into society, he shall have all his hair shaved off (Lv. 14:89). The Nazarenes, who consecrated themselves unto the Lord by a vow, allowed their hair to grow until the end of the period of their vow, when it was formally shaved off at the Tabernacle (Nm. 6:118). Female prisoners of war, if made wives, were required to pare their nails and shave their heads (Dt. 21:1014). Samson's strength lay in his hair; when it was cut off, he was as weak as any other man (Jgs. 16:1719). Absalom, who rebelled against David, his father and sovereign, was remarkable for his long hair (2 Sm. 14:26). When Nebuchadrezzar was overthrown and made an outcast, "he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws" (Dn. 4:33). For women, uncovered hair was symbolic of maidenhood, while the covering of the hair was symbolic of marriage and the acceptance of the husband's authority; it was also an ancient Jewish custom to cut off a woman's hair at marriage.

The imposition of authority is not necessarily symbolized by the cutting of hair, however. On the Pacific island of Tikopia, commoners loosen their hair to express submission to a chief, because in so doing, they signify their openness to control and influence. (On the same island, women cut their hair short, and men wear theirs long.)

The Use of Hair in Magic, Sacrifice, and Mourning

Magical and sacrificial uses of hair seem to form a somewhat separate category from those considered so far, since they involve the nature of something detached from the body. One of the commonest uses of hair is in hostile magic, when the hair clippings of an intended victim are obtained and ensorcelled, together with, or as an alternative to, nail parings, blood, saliva, semen, or other bodily secretions. In primitive thought, we frequently find that the human person is believed to have "extensions" that may include not only hair and the other bodily secretions but also personal names and belongings such as garments, shadows, and even footprints, all of which may be used to cast spells on a victim. In some societies, a sorcerer may cast a spell by including one of his own hairs in something given to the intended victim. Thus, in Papua a man may put one of his pubic hairs in a cigarette and give it to a woman who, it is believed, will then form a passionate attachment to him.

In many societies, fear of sorcery leads to the burning, burying, or hiding of hair. The Konso of Ethiopia take great care to hide these clippings: they cannot burn them since, according to their belief, doing so will cause their own sickness or death. As an alternative, in some cultures the cutting of hair or nails is forbidden for infants or others thought to be specially vulnerable to magical dangers.

Hair may also be used to transfer disease to another person, animal, or thing. In the Hebrides, it was the custom to cure epilepsy by burying a black cock with some clippings of hair and nails from the patient. In Devon and Yorkshire, the hair of a child with whooping cough was placed between two slices of bread and given to a dog; when the dog coughed, it was a sign that the disease had been successfully transferred. Conversely, the hair of a sick person might be put into a hole or hung in the branches of a healthy tree, so that the patient might derive health from the tree.

A related use of hair is in sacrifice. This was once very common, particularly among the ancient Greeks and Romans, who established relations with various gods by placing locks of hair on their altars. On reaching manhood, youths offered their first beard to Apollo, one of whose functions was to promote the fertility of crops, or gave their hair to the local river god. Nero offered his first beard to Jupiter, and Phoenician women sacrificed their hair to Adonis at the annual spring festival. Greek women offered their hair to deities before marriage, while Hygieia, goddess of health, was given offerings of women's hair before or after childbirth.

Hair is also used in a number of cultures to maintain a relationship with the dead; it may be placed with the corpse or on the tomb. In Islamic society, boys who had been dedicated to a saint at birth had their heads shaved sometime between eight and twelve years of age, and their hair was placed on the saint's tomb. Conversely, among the Iroquois, a lock of hair from the dead was given to the nearest relative of the deceased, while the Zuni believed that to burn the hair of a deceased friend and inhale the smoke would produce good health. Among the Arabs, the hair or beard is regarded as the seat of vitality and thus is specially suited to serve as the substitute for a life. As part of a reconciliation ceremony, a murderer has some of his hair or beard shaved off, as a token of the life that might have been demanded.

The cutting or tearing out of hair in mourning is one of the most commonly reported uses of hair. Since it is almost invariably associated with other forms of bodily mutilation, such as the gashing of the skin or even the severing of finger joints, it is most simply interpreted as self-directed aggression produced by grief. Mourning may also be signified by disheveling the hair or by covering it with dirt, ashes, mud, and so on. In all such cases the hair is also a convenient symbol indicating that the mourners temporarily hold a special status.

In hair symbolism, then, a relatively small number of basic themes constantly recur in the mythology, ritual, and social relations of peoples all over the world. But these themes are only a general guide; each case must be analyzed within the context of the particular culture in which it occurs.

Bibliography

Berg, Charles. The Unconscious Significance of Hair. London, 1951. Perhaps the most thorough treatment of the symbolic meaning of hair from a Freudian perspective. One's estimate of its value will naturally depend on one's evaluation of Freud's view.

Cooper, Wendy. Hair: Sex, Society, Symbolism. New York, 1971. A detailed and indispensable study of hair fashion and symbolism in many societies, from ancient to modern times. Since it is intended for a general readership, however, most items of information are given with no indication of their sources.

Firth, Raymond. Symbols: Public and Private. Ithaca, N.Y., 1973. Chapter 8 is a very useful general survey of hair symbolism by a leading anthropologist.

Hallpike, Christopher R. "Social Hair." In The Body Reader: Social Aspects of the Human Body, edited by Ted Polhemus, pp. 124146. New York, 1978. This essay discusses the Freudian interpretation of hair symbolism and gives reasons why in most cases we should prefer a sociological ex-planation.

Hallpike, Christopher R. The Foundations of Primitive Thought. Oxford, 1979. Pages 152157 contain further material on hair symbolism and a more extended discussion of the validity of applying the concept of repression to social symbols in general.

Hershman, P. "Hair, Sex and Dirt." Man, n.s. 9 (1974): 274298. A discussion of some general problems of hair symbolism with special reference to the Punjabis of India. Contains a useful bibliography of Indian sources.

Leach, Edmund R. "Magical Hair." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 88 (1958): 147164. This paper, which uses Freudian psychology to supplement anthropological explanations of hair symbolism, was an important contribution to the subject and has been frequently cited.

Morgenstern, Julian. Rites of Birth, Marriage, Death and Kindred Occasions among the Semites. Chicago, 1966. Contains detailed and valuable material on the ritual uses of hair in traditional Jewish and Islamic society.

Rivière, Peter G. "Myth and Material Culture: Some Symbolic Interrelations." In Forms of Symbolic Action, edited by R. F. Spencer, pp. 151166. Seattle, 1969. An attempt to correct and develop the arguments put forward by Leach (1958), setting hair in the context of other symbolic ornamentation of the body.

Sikes, E. E., and Louis H. Gray. "Hair and Nails." In Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, edited by James Hastings, vol. 6. Edinburgh, 1913. This article, in two parts, contains a wealth of references to classical and early ethnographic sources relating to hair that are of permanent value to the scholar.

Christopher R. Hallpike (1987)

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Hair

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Hair

Hair

"Where there's hair, there's pleasure," notes the African-American writer Alice Walker, and such pleasure is inherently bound up with dynamics of sexuality, gender, and power. The fetishization of hair—head, facial, pubic, and other—crosses boundaries of time and place and often signals the making or marking of particular cultural boundaries as well, such as between a primitive and animalistic nature versus a refined and domesticated civilization or between fecundity, fertility, and sexual allure and their counterparts, asceticism, death, and detachment. Hair has likewise featured in gendered battles over class, ethnic, religious, and national boundaries throughout recorded history.

Practices associated with hair encode binary gender distinctions in most cultures, although different cultures assign similar phenomena, such as mandatory hair length, covering, or binding, or opposing gender categories. Traditional Muslim and Jewish practice, for example, calls for the covering of a woman's—though not a man's—hair during much of adult life, whereas traditional Asian cultures tended to relegate everyday hair covering exclusively to adult men. By the same token, long hair on contemporary European and North American men signals a counter-cultural stance against gender conventions in those nations; before such conventions gained hegemony in Korea, by contrast, long, uncut (albeit tightly bound) hair signified deep familial respect, whereas cropped male hair betokened abject shame and dishonor. Among the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania, the women shave their heads; swinging tresses in that society are relegated to male warriors. The Christian savior Jesus is almost universally depicted with long, loose hair, notwithstanding the fact that Christian scriptures term shameful both long hair on men and short hair on women.

Body and facial hair are apt to be even more strongly and consistently gendered across cultures. Facial hair on women (eyebrows occasionally excepted) is almost universally taboo, and the removal of much or all body hair is widespread among women, especially the elite, in many contemporary societies. The nonremoval of leg and underarm hair by women, although unremarkable in some cultures, commonly elicits disgust, particularly in North America and some European countries, and functions, along with butch or crew cut hairstyles, in popular iconography of feminists and/or lesbians. Male depilation of body hair is practiced in some cultures but is anathema in others. Male facial hair runs the gamut from compulsory (among Sikhs, Confucians, and some subgroups of Muslims and Jews, for example) to prohibited or severely circumscribed (under many military codes and other such regimes), to restricted to particular age or status groups (elders, for instance, as opposed to youth). Pubic hair (with notable exceptions) is strikingly absent from the great majority of nude images—both male and female—from ancient Hindu, Mediterranean, and African sculpture to Medieval and European Renaissance painting, to postmodern Japanese comic books. In actual practice, retention of pubic hair appears common to all sexes in European and North American societies, whereas its removal (by one or more sexes) appears equally common in many Middle Eastern, Turkish, South Asian, and African societies.

Perhaps more so than any other symbolic medium, hair displays the nexus of sexuality with spirituality in its supernatural associations with powers of creation and destruction; life and death. The most powerful and elemental of ancient goddesses—Kali, the destroyer and transformer; Isis, creatrix and resurrector; and Gaea and Oshun, life-giving earth and water—are depicted with vibrant, unbound hair, as are Draupadi and Medusa in their manifestations as both victim and avenger of sexual violation. Many myths, such as those of Samson and Nisus, link male hair with virility and its loss with devastating weakness. Hair figures in an infinite variety of rituals associated with fertility and conception, birth, coming of age, mating, giving birth, killing, dying, mourning, and burial.

In the contemporary human realm, hair's entanglement with sexual desire and ultimate values is as well illustrated by Hindu and Buddhist ascetic practices as it is by corporate marketing strategies of the global economy. Shaving of the head has, for millennia, accompanied vows of celibacy and nonattachment to possessions and passions by Buddhist monks and nuns. Among Hindu ascetics, such renunciation or redirection of passions is often expressed through long, unkempt, matted locks of hair. In European and North American popular culture, both head shaving and dreadlocks, along with countless other hairdos, come and go as personal fashion statements at the same time that sexy hair—usually long, glossy, and highly styled—is enlisted in the marketing of a vast array of consumer goods. These latter practices are emblematic of the individualism and materialism that have come to characterize post-Enlightenment culture. Hence, objectification of hair and its association with ego, sex, pleasure, and worldliness finds equal and opposite expression in age-old religious traditions of asceticism and modern, secular capitalism.

Hair is invariably and deeply ensnarled in politics, such that sexualized, gendered hair practices commonly serve as flash points in the negotiation of public identities within and among various cultures. Ongoing battles over Islamic veiling of women exemplify this phenomenon on a broad scale, whereas hair politics in African-American communities are an equally intense, if more localized, manifestation of the same. In both cases community convention and personal choice (or its lack) are entwined in a complex web of racialized, ethnic/nationalist discourses with historical roots in colonialist and anticolonialist projects. Hair comes to bear the symbolic and often physical freight of competing and interlocking oppressions as well as complicated expressions of resistance and affirmation. The presence or absence of the hijab (some manner of scarf or veil) in Muslim majority and minority societies, like Afro or natural versus relaxed hairstyles in black communities, are highly gendered elements of larger identity formulations played out on the heads and in the daily lives of countless women.

Whether short or long, present or absent, dyed, bleached, curled, straightened, plaited, teased, spiked, bound and covered, or loose and unhampered, hair is a mode of human expression that carries as many messages and meanings as there are ways to treat it. These meanings vary across cultures and through time, but they are always and everywhere enmeshed, like hair itself, in constructions of gender, sex, sexuality, and power.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Cynthia M. "Hair." 1999. In The Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion, ed. Serinity Young. New York: Macmillan.

Banks, Ingrid. 2000. Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women's Consciousness. New York: New York University Press.

Eilberg-Schwartz, Howard, and Wendy Doniger, eds. 1995. Off With Her Head! The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

El Guindi, Fadwa. 1999. Veil: Modesty, Privacy, and Resistance. Oxford: Berg.

Hiltebeitel, Alf, and Barbara D. Miller, eds. 1998. Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures. Albany: State University of New York Press.

                                               Cynthia M. Baker

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Hair

HAIR

Manipulation of hair carries cultural meanings in most societies. In traditional India, individuals within society kept their hair controlled by some form of grooming. Controlled social hair stands in sharp contrast to ascetic hair, which is either left ungroomed to form a matted mass or completely shaved. The Buddha and Buddhist monks share this feature with other world-renouncing ascetics, including Hindu sannyāsis and Jain monks: They are all shaven-headed.

Early texts state that the Buddha cut his hair to twofingers' breadth in length when he renounced the world. His hair (and beard) remained at that length for the rest of his life, curling to the right. This is the way the Buddha is depicted in art. A stock phrase in Buddhist scriptures states that a monk "cuts his hair and beard and goes from home to the homeless state." Shaving the head has remained a distinctive feature of Buddhist monks and nuns. Hairs of the Buddha, along with his nail parings, also came to be enshrined and venerated as relics.

Shaving symbolized an individual's separation from society, marked both by the monk's withdrawal from home and social institutions and by his exclusion from socially sanctioned structures for sexual expression. All ritually shaven individuals, both ascetics and nonascetics, such as criminals and widows, live celibate lives. Scholarship in a variety of disciplines has recognized the sexual symbolism of hair. Removing hair at ascetic initiation symbolically returns the ascetic to a prepubertal state of a sexually undifferentiated infant. Removing hair implies the uprooting of sexual desires.

Hair has remained a focus of attention and anxiety among Buddhist monks. Anthropologists have noted that young monks often express rebellion against authority and left-wing political allegiances by allowing their hair to grow a little longer.

See also:Ordination; Relics and Relics Cults; Sexuality

Bibliography

Hiltebeitel, Alf, and Miller, Barbara D., eds. Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Patrick Olivelle

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Hair

Hair

A new milestone in Broadway history was set in 1968 when Hair, the first rock musical, opened to mass popularity. Tackling controversial and explosive issues of the era in a theatrically innovative fashion, the brash and exciting musical sustained a five year run at New York's Biltmore Theater. The show eventually spawned a total of fourteen national companies and produced eleven cast albums in different languages worldwide. A concept musical reflecting the anti-establishment energy of 1960s American "hippie" youth culture, Hair was seen by over four million people in its first two years of production, and the show ultimately grossed over $22,000,000 in revenue. The revolutionary musical generated several hit radio singles and brought to public attention a number of talented performers. The enormous success of Hair paved the way for a series of ambitious rock musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1970s and Rent in the mid-1990s.

The project that eventually came to be known as Hair evolved in 1965 from the creative minds of Broadway performers Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Although they had never formally written a musical project before, the two co-authors were fascinated by the as yet untapped theatrical potential of 1960s youth culture and began to do field research in New York City. Ragni and Rado interviewed and documented the lifestyles of hippies who had rejected dominant social mores and values, choosing instead to fight for abstract principles like freedom, justice, and liberty. Celebrating the newly arriving "Age of Aquarius," these youth held decided opposition to American military involvement in Vietnam, carried a fondness for marijuana and other experimental drugs, cherished a newfound sense of sexual freedom, and positioned themselves firmly against environmental destruction, racial segregation, and religious dogma.

Ragni and Rado were also enticed by the opportunity to breathe new life into the musical theater scene. Daring musicals like Cabaret, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof had already begun to experiment with form, relying less on text and placing more emphasis on music and dance. In 1968, Hair would come to alter the formal possibilities for musicals by explicitly drawing on both experimental theatrical techniques, including those pioneered by visionaries such as Antonin Artuad and Jerzy Grotowski, and on the energy of the avant-garde downtown New York theater scene. In contrast to Oklahoma, which had revolutionized Broadway theaters in the 1940s, Hair was less concerned with character and plot, and instead focused on thematic content and the depiction of lifestyle.

After completing the bulk of their field research, Ragni and Rado decided to collaborate with Canadian composer Galt McDermot, who wrote the amiable and infectious rock tunes that would bring Hair to public endearment. The nearly incoherent plot centered on Claude, a young man who had been drafted to service in Vietnam; his friend Berger who had "dropped out" from society; and their friend Sheila, an anti-war student at New York University. Joseph Papp of the New York Shakespeare Festival took an interest in the experimental script and decided to produce it at his Public Theater in downtown New York. Papp's off-Broadway run of Hair: An American Tribal Love Rock Musical at the Public Theater was only a modest success, however. Ragni and Rado came into frequent conflict with director Gerald Freedman, who chose to concentrate on the book of the musical and to polish its look rather than attempt to convey the "authenticity" of the youth counterculture on to the stage.

Upon the completion of the run of Hair at the Public Theater, Michael Butler, a young wealthy political with a pressing concern for the welfare of Native Americans, took an interest in producing the experimental musical. Butler financially backed the show at the Cheetah, a popular dance hall discotheque in Manhattan. The unsuccessful run proved that the show needed to be overhauled before being brought to Broadway. Tom O'Horgan, a director who had honed an impressive amount of experience in his work at the avant-garde New York theater LaMama, was hired to revamp the show; while Robin Wagner, Jules Fisher, and Nancy Potts were respectively hired to redesign the scenic design, lighting design, and costume design. O'Horgan virtually wiped the show clean of its narrative and concentrated more intently on the concept. Thirteen songs were added to enhance the show's pro-love, pro-sex, pro-drugs, and racial harmony message.

In its new form, the show fearlessly broke certain taboos of the theater. Headed by the two authors in the leading roles, the young and talented cast demolished the "fourth wall" of the theater by entering through the audience to arrive on stage. The cast often switched roles interchangeably. For the first time on the mainstream stage, audiences witnessed drug use, explicit language, an openly gay character, and drag queens. During the infamous "Be-In" scene, the cast stripped nude under blinking strobe lights to the shock and surprise of the spectators. The show's popularity was enormous; and in April of 1968, the members of the original cast performed a free, jam-packed show in Central Park.

For all its experimental bravery, Hair was met with derision by distinguished theatrical critics and lost the Best Musical Tony Award to a more traditional musical, 1776. Nonetheless, the musical brought to attention a series of gifted performers like Ben Vereen, Diane Keaton, Melba Moore, and Nell Carter, each of whom went on to greater success in areas of film, television, and music. The musical also spawned a series of spin-off albums like Disinhairted that consisted largely of outtake material that had been excised on the show's path to Broadway. As performed by groups like the Fifth Dimension and the Cowsills, infectious songs like "Let the Sunshine In," "Good Morning Sunshine," and "Aquarius" soon topped the American pop charts.

After generating an impressive number of road shows, Hair closed on Broadway in 1972. The show was revived in 1977, but by then, the material no longer seemed as topical and original as it had in 1968. In 1978, the musical became reworked as a critically acclaimed film directed by Milos Forman, and in 1988 some of the original cast members rejoined at the United Nations to celebrate the musical's twentieth anniversary reunion concert. A European tour of the musical continued to prove successful into the 1990s; and in 1998, an off-Broadway revival of Hair briefly played to commendable reviews. Yet, as evidenced by the success of the rock musical Rent in 1995, the impact of Hair has been long lasting. A document of a profoundly turbulent and explosive era in American history, Hair forever changed not only the look and the sound of the Broadway musical, but also its very possibilities.

—Jason King

Further Reading:

Davis, Lorrie, and Rachel Gallagher. Letting Down My Hair. New York, Arthur Fields, 1973.

Horn, Barbara Lee. The Age of Hair: Evolution and Impact of Broadway's First Rock Musical. New York, Greenwood Press, 1991.

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Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

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http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hair

Hair



Hair was a landmark Broadway (see entry under 1900s—Film and Theater in volume 1) musical in the late 1960s. It was groundbreaking on several accounts. Hair not only portrayed the era's youth culture but also gloriously celebrated it. Its characters were way outside the mainstream of American society: They were hippies (see entry under 1960s—The Way We Lived in volume 4) who used drugs and shocking language. Hair relied on experimental theater techniques that focused on the themes of the musical and the portrayal of a lifestyle, rather than on character and plot development. Hair earned the distinction of being the first-ever rock musical. The cast members ignored the "fourth wall" of the theater—the invisible wall that separates actors and audience—by coming on stage from the audience, rather than from backstage. Finally, at the finale of the first act, during the celebrated "Be-In" sequence, the actors removed their clothes.

Hair was the creation of Broadway performers Gerome Ragni (1935–1991) and James Rado (1932–), who in the mid-1960s believed that the music, styles, and viewpoints of the then-developing youth culture might be translated to the stage. To research the project, they conducted interviews with young people who had embraced the civil rights movement (see entry under 1960s—The Way We Lived in volume 4) and the anti-Vietnam War (1954–75) sentiments and who were experimenting with drugs and sex. Next, they collaborated with composer Galt MacDermot (1928–), resulting in the creation of an agreeably bouncy score that highlighted the antics of the show's characters. Among them: Claude, who has just been drafted into the military; his drop-out pal Berger; and Sheila, a college student and antiwar activist.

Joseph Papp (1921–1991), the legendary organizer of the New York Shakespeare Festival, produced the show, which opened off-Broadway at the Public Theatre on October 29, 1967. The full title was Hair: An American Tribal Rock Musical. It eventually moved to Cheetah, a popular Greenwich Village discotheque. At this point, its director was Gerald Freedman (1927–). After being completely revamped and redesigned by a new director, Tom O'Horgan (1926–), and others—additional songs were added and the concept (idea of the play itself) almost completely replaced the narrative (story to be told). This version of Hair opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on April 19, 1968.

Many establishment critics neither liked nor understood Hair and dismissed the show as vulgar trash. Other, more open-minded reviewers hailed it for its freshness and honesty. Hair may have lost the Best Musical Tony Award to 1776, a more traditionally structured musical, but it was wildly popular and remained on Broadway until 1972. Productions were mounted across the country and, soon, throughout the world. At its height, fourteen national companies performed the musical. Eleven cast albums were recorded, in different languages. During its first two years alone, approximately four million people saw Hair on stage.

By the time Hair was revived on Broadway (in 1978), and made into a film (in 1979), American society had drastically changed, and the show seemed dated. Today Hair is a period piece, a product of the time in which it emerged. It nonetheless remains a show that altered the look and sound—and expanded the possibilities—of the Broadway musical.


—Rob Edelman


For More Information

Davis, Lorrie, and Rachel Gallagher. Letting Down My Hair. New York: Arthur Fields, 1973.

Hair (film). United Artists, 1979.

Horn, Barbara Lee. The Age of Hair: Evolution and Impact of Broadway'sFirst Rock Musical. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.

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"Hair." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hair." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/culture-magazines/hair

"Hair." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America. . Retrieved December 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/culture-magazines/hair

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

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The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.