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Tuesday, 21 February 2012



The word ‘barber’ comes from the Latin barba, "beard".

The barber's trade has been traced back to 3500 B.C in Ancient Egypt, where relics of razors have been found. Priests and men of medicine are the earliest recorded examples of barbers.

Barber shops first came into vogue in the Ancient Greek period. Men would have their beards, hair, and fingernails trimmed and styled in an agora, which also served as a social gathering where political, sports, and social news and gossip was exchanged.

Some Ancient Greek barbers were skilled artists and respected community members. Others were household slaves who were punished if they allowed a hair out of place.

Barbering was introduced to the Romans by the Greek colonies in Sicily in 296 B.C. After Publicus Ticinius Maenas, a wealthy Greek businessman, brought professional barbers from Sicily to Rome, barber shops quickly became very popular centres for daily news and gossip.

In Roman times all free men had to be clean shaven while slaves were forced to wear beards. 

Roman barbers dressed cuts with spiders’ webs soaked in vinegar.

Roman Barbers use thin-bladed iron razors, shaved a face with an iron novacila, or Roman razor, which were sharpened with water and a whetstone. They didn't always use soap or oil, which is probably why it takes so long to shave a patron's face.

A decree was issued in 1092 Britain by which the ecclesiastical authorities forbade monks to grow beards. As a result many surgeons also became "beard-cutters” or barbers.

In the Middle Ages barbers also performed as surgeons, a practice previously attended to by monks, priests, and other clergymen. The barber pole was introduced in Britain featuring red and white spiraling stripes, which indicated the two crafts (surgery in red and barbering in white).

Barbers received higher pay than surgeons until surgeons were entered into British war ships during naval wars.

In 1450, an Act of Parliament prohibited barbers from performing surgery.

Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning frame initially started off as a barber. After the death of his first wife, Patience Holt, by whom he had a son, he married Margaret Biggins in 1761. Margaret had a small income, which enabled Arkwright to expand his barbering business. He acquired a secret method for dyeing hair and traveled about the country purchasing human hair for use in the manufacture of wigs.

In 1940s Mississippi there was a man called the Phantom Barber who would break into people's houses at night, and cut their hair. His prime target was young girls with blonde hair.

Apprentice barbers in Copenhagen staged the longest strike in history from 1938 to 1961. 


Danny DeVito is a qualified hairdresser.

It is illegal in Elkhart, Indiana, for a barber to threaten to cut off a youngster's ears.

Barbers are not allowed to eat onions between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Waterloo, Nebraska.

Forest Grove, Oregon, is home to the world’s tallest barber pole. Built in 1973, the red, white, and blue striped pole is 72 feet high.

Source Daily Express

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