A curious social history about the connection between the long hair fashion of men with the ups and downs of history.

The Long Hair History

from the discussion on Facebook: - "... Dawn of a new era... or not?"

(Started 28.3.2010, at 6.00 P.M.)


I think it started about 2006, when the hippie documentary "Summer of Love" (about 1967) was made and televised...


Before the 60s, long hair was almost out of the question in all global society. The Beatles introduced it in 1963 but rather modestly, their "shockingly long hair" didn't even reach their necks - in the beginning. The Rolling Stones grew it longer, and the first instance of truly long hair that I can remember was a group called "The Hullaballoos" who even dressed up in leopard skins, about 1968. Since then there have been no limits, but it was still more or less rare and had a very bad reputation because of the general drug abuse by the hippies, who already since 1968 seemed to be dying out, but they never did. They kept returning in new generations, the second was never very grand, but the third suddenly started exploding in the new millennium. The TV series "Summer of Love" in 2006 definitely brought about a sensational renaissance for extremely long hair, since it focussed on the romantic side of this cultural phenomenon. (to be continued)


Before 1960, the last period of wild long hair was the romantic period after the French revolution and the Napoleon wars. All the romantic poets were rather long-haired, like all the romantic composers from Beethoven to the death of Franz Liszt. Then, with the advent of materialism and up to the outbreak of the first world war, they gradually died out to be replaced by soldier coiffures. The beard fashion also died out in that "decadent" period - compare for instance Edward VII with Edward VIII - two monarchs, grandfather and grandson, from two entirely different worlds.
The most long-haired composers were Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and the young Brahms, who in his latter days replaced his fine hair with a rather less decorous beard. The most long-haired romantic writers were Victor Hugo well up to hos fifties, Dickens, Nikolay Gogol and Leo Tolstoy (actually from his 30s to his end). Compare those poets with, for instance, Gabriele d'Annunzio from the next century, all bald and fascist. (to be further continued)


Before that, there was a rather consistently long period, 1400-1650, (king Charles I having been beheaded in 1649, the most long-haired monarch of all,) when long hair was predominant in upper society, especially among artists and aristocrats. William Shakespeare's patron Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, was perhaps the most long-haired of all - there is a fantastic portrait of him in lady's clothes as well, so that transsexuality could be suspected. Oliver Cromwell was the extremest opposite, a soldier and dictator with civil war as a speciality.
This long long-haired period was definitely the most dynamic in European history. The only equivalent was in ancient Greece, from Homer all the way to Hadrian's Antinoos. The emperor Hadrian, the first Greek emperor, has always been stamped with homosexuality, but there was never any evidence of that, as little as of Leonardo da Vinci, who was stamped from his youth with an obvious guilt of that social curse, although it was probably just meanness born out of evil rumours of social prejudice. Hadrian also was probably no more than guilty of Platonic love, he never had any children, which is no evidence of homosexuality but could be of impotence. The Romans were very good at killing each other, suicide and keeping up their families mainly by adoptions, like Trajan, Hadrian and Antonine Pius - which leads us to the very Greek and remarkable phenomenon of Platonic love, which seems to have emerged already with Homer and kept the cultural civilization of classical Antiquity going for a thousand years. The Hellenic-Roman world could be called the only thousand-year kingdom that ever existed, and it was the most successful effort so far to unite the world. No one did it better than Homer with Pythagoras, Plato, the first two Caesars and Marcus Aurelius for his followers. (next stop: Greece)


The first Hellenes to grow their hair long were the Spartans in the 8th century B.C, recommended to that practice by their leader Lycurgus, who seems to have been directly influenced by Homer. It spread all over Greece, during the great age of Athens nothing was more adored than beautful long-haired young men, like Alcibiades, and this was perhaps the most dynamic age in history, civilization reaching a climax of realistic and classical art and architecture. It lasted all the way to the first two Caesars and Hadrian, during which great Roman age it was considered natural that young men SHOULD grow their hair long. It was a norm, which was finished not until the soldier and gladiator emperors of the 3rd century took over by means of killing all their opponents. But from where did Homer and the Greeks get the idea?
Plutarch has an explanation of this. No one studied Spartan history more carefully than he, and he claims the Spartans got the idea from Israel, when after the fall of the Samaritan and Jewish kingdoms many Israelic and Jewish refugees came to Greece. The Jews had the tradition that "nazirs" sworn to the closest service to God never should cut their hair, mind you, NEVER! They were succesful as long as they stuck to that rule, see the story of Samson, wherefore they brought it to Greece as a recommendation, where it was adopted as an intriguing norm. Lycurgus established it with the conclusion, that long hair made good-looking men look even better and fearful soldiers even more fearful. It's possible that the Greeks adopted it mainly because it proved to work well in battle. Remember, that the first world ruler in history, Alexander the Great, always wore his hair long. The chief Hellenic god of justice, art, esthetics, music and all culture was Apollo, who never was depicted as short-haired, a fashion which curiously enough also marked his very contrary, Dionysus, the god of intoxication.
They are not the only gods to wear their hair long. India is full of them, there is hardly one god there, unless he has animal form, who is not as long-haired as possible. The Sikhs, the most successful, versatile and qualified group in India, as successful intellectually as in war, are also forbidden to ever cut their hair. There is a very good example of how they maintain their singularity in "The English Patient". Maybe the Hebrews got the idea from there? It seems, though, as if it originated simultaneously in India, Israel and Greece.
In short, it seems to have been historical ups whenever long hair has been fashionable, and downs when the more brutal fashion of obligatory short hair has marked more "fascistic" epochs. (End of article. Some quotations will follow.)


Liam Thor Fields :
lol dude, theres alot of people who want my hair gone, fortunately they dont have the means or the mental capacity to do so, so its a big win in my book, as for baldness, ill cross that bridge when i get to it, dreadlocks seem to work for a few balding folk i know, :)
Igår kl. 03:24 ·
Christian Lanciai :
I don't believe in it. The only efficient way I've heard of to reduce the risk of baldness, is simply to keep the hair clean, to comb it daily down to the roots. Baldness occurs when the hair roots cannot breathe and the breathing pores of the skull get blocked. The way to open them is efficient massage by combing the hair hard down to the roots. ... Evade any kind of cap, which increases the risk of closed up hair roots, as much as you can. I started to worry as hairs started to come off at 15. Too late I learned about this method, but I still have my hair left...
Not too much, though. Just once a day is enough... Good luck!

(Yesterday. 11:38 (29.9.2010) ·

Essay by Christian Lanciai The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2010-03-29 at 14:15

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Thomas Perdue The PoetBay support member heart!
Hmm... You say that the Greeks got the idea from the Nazirs, but later, you say that it appears that it emerged simultaneously in India, Israel and Greece. Hmm...

Well, it's a nice article, a very interested history of long haired men, even though it isn't completely accurate. Nice work! :-)

Christian Lanciai The PoetBay support member heart!
Thank you, Marie. You are quite right, of course: the essay is more literary than scientific. Here is another comment I had in another forum, with my answer:

Nick Crown: Not a bad article but there are several inaccuracies: from 1500-1600 short hair was the most common. The Roman army invented the crew cut to prevent enemies grabbing a soldier by the hair. From the 5th until the 11th centuries Europeans like the Vikings and Saxons had shoulder length hair. Then short hair became the norm for the elite after William the Bastard conquered England. The Normans cropped their hair short after William's brother, a bishop, remarked a man with a beard looked like a goat.
One last thing: the Mods weren't the first youth subculture with long hair. In the 1950s Teddy Boys grew their hair a similar length and piled it high using brylcreem at a time when most men had short back and sides. At the same time in the US greasers styled their hair in a similar way, while surfers and beatniks allowed their hair to be bushy and un-styled
This article (referenced in an earlier thread) may also interest you:
Yesterday 00:28

Christian Lanciai : Thanks, Nick, especially for the historum article. As soon as I had finished mine I became aware of its fallacies, although the main meaning would remain. It was actually Alexander who forbade his soldiers to grow long hair for your above-mentioned reason, but only soldiers. It's true what you say about the Saxons and Vikings, but you should then also include the famous French Merovingians (see Lincoln, Baigent and their epoch-making historical work), perhaps the men with the longest hair in history (until today), and all these three represented also a kind of great age, even the Saxons - remember king Arthur and his lads, who always were depicted with long flowing hair far beyond their shoulders, especially Sir Lancelot. In a corrected version of the article, I changed 1700 to 1650, the year after king Charles' decapitation, the longest-haired monarch in history, after which the absurd wig fashion started off. I am aware of the pre-Beatles long-haired groups, but they were only groups and hardly convincing as very long-haired, while the Beatles launched it for real. Also I would not quite agree about short hair 1500-1600. Raphael? Leonardo? Elizabethan England? Pico de Mirandola? What I most of all agree with in your comment, though, is denominating William the Bastard exaclty what he was. The last king Harold has ever since been rotating in his grave (that actually never has been found) waiting for the truth to finally come out... Cheers, my friend! ---

As for the Sikh detail, it was only a way to make the reader immediately get an idea of long-haired Indians, who were always extremely long-haired, especially the holiest ones, a continuous tradition ever since the Mahabharata and the Vedas, a tradition of sacred "longhairedness" which today is most respectfully manifest by the Sikhs.

Marie Cadavieco The PoetBay support member heart!
I find this thread very interesting if not always factual. Example: "maybe the Hebrews got the idea of long hair from the Sikhs"??????

The Sikhs were founded in the 15th century CE but as you will probably recall Samson, the best-known nazirite in the Bible, was a Judge of Israel, thus pre-dating not only Jesus but the kings of Israel as well. One estimate for Samson's birth was 1050BC to 1000BC. Whenever, it is DEFINITELY before Christ.

Thus it is more likely that the Sikhs got the idea from the Hebrews rather than the other way round.

Interestingly re Alexander, most portrayals show him with a comparatively short haircut, and clean-shaven - it is said that he was loath to lose the boyish look and used his sword to shave (ouch) and to trim his hair.

ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
I have decided after much thought to joine the long hair ones , I have chosen the mad poet look , lol.
Ken ( : - ) )