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As the month of ‘Movember’ draws to a close-

with its emphasis on men’s health concerns

and the moustache as rallying symbol-

the question of isolating when the moustache became

facial hair fashion begs an answer.

 

A whisk down whisker way

 

Dating back to classical antiquity of Greco-Roman times,

men sported facial hair.

For the Greeks, facial hair was a symbol of

masculinity, virility, strength, manhood.

A clean shaven face was considered an indication

of effeminacy and weakness.

The militaristic Spartans marked cowards

by shaving off a part of their beards.

(image from listverse.com):

moustache, full beard, greek, hippocrataes

Famed Greek physician (Classical Athens), Hippocrates

featured with full facial hair

Yet, seemingly in an effort to distinguish themselves

from the Greeks, the Romans favoured a clean-shaven look:

noble, fearless and facial hairless seemed more the Roman norm.

 

(image from biography.com):

moustache, clean shaven, roman, ceasar

Roman emperor, Julius Ceasar

The Romans regarded facial hair

as a sign of slovenliness

The debate on points for or against the fashion of men’s facial hair

has been contested through millennia.

Leonardo da Vinci, the esteemed Renaissance polymath

also weighed in, voicing an opinion in defense of facial hair.

He once stated, “Hair is essential to a face as a frame is to a picture.”

Indeed, as is evident from his many self portraits,

da Vinci proudly sported an abundance of hair,

which more than simply outlined his face.

(image from bbc.com):

moustache/beards, da vinci

Consummate thinker and doer

Renaissance man, Facial hair enthusiast

Leonardo da Vinci

….

Yet, although Western civilization of Greco-Roman culture,

was divided on the facial hair issue,

there is evidence that an ancient Eastern culture demonstrated

a moustache – only appreciation.

There is an image of a Saka horseman from the Pazyryk

culture of ancient Iran, which shows a mustachioed warrior-horseman.

 

(image from ukranianweek.com):

moustache, pazyryk horsemanm 300 BC

Saka horseman from the Pazyryk (ancient Iran)

The depiction dates back to 300 BC.

However, it will be a considerable length of time

before the moustache comes into its full glory.

 

The Victorians: Innovators of great and small

The Victorian era spans the reign of the

British monarch, Queen Victoria, 1837 – 1901.

During this period, Britain was the world superpower nation.

To this day, we remain indebted to the Victorian Achievement,

which chronicles an impressive list of firsts:

advancements in engineering, communication, steamship and rail travel.

Yet, one area of accomplishment is often overlooked-

the establishing of the moustache as facial fashion feature.

 

 

Victorian  Era tache types

(image from estsy.com):

moustache, victorian, etsy.com il_340x270.553011263_8x1u

A Victorian gent sporting a walrus moustache

During the Victorian period, the moustache became a

well-placed fashion accessory.

An unadorned upper lip was simply unacceptable.

Some men went to great lengths to ensure that their moustaches

kept its shape, even using wooden frames at night

to secure the desired result.

(image from liverpoolmuseums.org.uk):

moustache, victorian, liverpoolmuseums.org,uk dmorr4-mylechreest-pilot

Moustache wax was used to sculpt and

to keep every hair in place

moustache, victorian, the famouspeople.com sir-arthur-conan-doyle-1

Writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

(image from top10films.co.uk):

moustache, victorian, edward-elgar, composer top10films.co.uk_moustache_movember_top10films

Composer, Edward Elgar

a bushy trim

(image from todaysengineer.org):

moustache, victorian, Alexander Graham bell 1876 , todyasengineer.org AGB1

Alexander Graham Bell

inventor of the telephone

(image from arthurlloyd.co.uk):

moustache, victorian, JamesFernandez, actor, arthurlloyd.co.uk 1883

Actor, James Fernandez

Victorian men took great pride in coiffing their moustache,

to create distinct style structures.

(image from paradoxplaza.com):

moustache, victorian, silvestro marconi, italian politican paradoxplaza.com 132836988.nOsXialL

Italian politician, Silvestro Marconi

well turned out, then up: a handlebar moustache

(image from victorianfanguide.tumblr.com):

moustache, victorian, victorianfanguide.tumblr.com 5954818612_80aba00279

M & M:  moustache and mutton chop whiskers

(image from express.co.uk):

moustache, victorian, george clarke, met police police inspector, express.co.uk277971_1

Metropolitan police inspector, George Clarke

a neatly done lampshade moustache

(image from cnn.com):

moustache, victorian, peter jackson, boxer, cnn41001155408-peter-jackson-black-chronicles-vertical-gallery

Boxer,  Peter Jackson

wears a pencil tache

(image from victorianweb.org):

moustache, victorian, Sir john tenniel, illustrator alice in wonderland, vicotrianweb.org

Sir John Tenniel

Illustrator, Alice in Wonderland

upper lip covered

 

Like all fashion trends, the moustache eventually fell out of popular favour.

By the late 1880s, early 1890s the cult of the clean-shaven face

began its resurgence.

Yet as during the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans,

men’s facial hair fashion continues to be influenced by several factors.

The ultimate determinant is a matter of personal taste:

which is far from a “hairy” situation.