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Shaving

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Ken
Compulsive Reader
Location: Truro, Cornwall, UK

Shaving

Postby Ken » Sun May 17th, 2009, 8:32 am

Just read the posts below on beards and shaving in the MA. Having pretty stubborn facial hair myself, I get through quite a lot of razor blades!

So! I started to wonder what they used for shaving in those far-off days? I guess they didn't have the technology to produce the fine, thin blades (like cut-throat razors) you would need for a close shave, so did they just use finely sharpened knives, leaving a bit of stubble or designer shadow?

On the same - more or less - subject: How did they cut their finger and toe nails? I know 'shears' existed, so the 'scissor' technology was there, but in small (and sharp) scale?

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michellemoran
Bibliophile
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Postby michellemoran » Sun May 17th, 2009, 5:06 pm

In ancient Egypt, anyway, they used bronze razors, sharpened knives, and tweezers (ouch). Here's an example of a mirror and razor (which looks nothing like today's razor). And hereare a few more examples from a book.
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Check out Michelle's blog History Buff at michellemoran.blogspot.com

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Ken
Compulsive Reader
Location: Truro, Cornwall, UK

Ken

Postby Ken » Sun May 17th, 2009, 6:18 pm

"michellemoran" wrote:In ancient Egypt, anyway, they used bronze razors, sharpened knives, and tweezers (ouch). Here's an example of a mirror and razor (which looks nothing like today's razor). And hereare a few more examples from a book.



Thanks Michelle!

From first glance, very good examples that will become even more useful when I've managed to get through the book reference you gave.

They were obviously more advanced in hair grooming than I first thought, any ideas about the nail scissors?

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michellemoran
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Postby michellemoran » Sun May 17th, 2009, 6:37 pm

They didn't have small scissors - so far as I know - for nails. So I'm really not sure how they would have trimmed them. I know they decorated them, but I've never come across any research specifically talking about how they were cut, probably because they used something basic. Teeth? Knife?
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Check out Michelle's blog History Buff at michellemoran.blogspot.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun May 17th, 2009, 7:24 pm

Here's a collection of antique razors- scary looking stuff!
http://razorland55.free.fr/lune04.htm

An amusing shaving timeline here:
http://www.quikshave.com/timeline.htm
Contains facts such as: Greek women used lamps to singe the hair off their legs (could be nasty) and Roman ladies used depilatory creams to remove unwanted body hair on a daily basis. These creams included some unusual ingredients, like resin, pitch, white vine or ivy gum extract, ass's fat, she-goat's gall, bat's blood, and powdered viper!. Actually I think that Roman men also used depilatory creams, though I wouldn't swear to that.
Last edited by annis on Sun May 17th, 2009, 9:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Ken
Compulsive Reader
Location: Truro, Cornwall, UK

Ken

Postby Ken » Sun May 17th, 2009, 8:25 pm

"annis" wrote:Here's a collection of antique razors- scary looking stuff!
http://razorland55.free.fr/lune04.htm

An amusing shaving timeline here:
http://www.quikshave.com/timeline.htm
Contains facts such as: Greek women used lamps to singe the hair off their legs (could be nasty) and Roman ladies used depilatory creams to remove unwanted body hair on a daily basis. These creams included some unusual ingredients, like resin, pitch, white vine or ivy gum extract, ass's fat, she-goat's gall, bat's blood, and powdered viper!. Actually I think that Roman men also used depilatory creams, though I wouldn't swaer to that.


Thanks Annis

Well, how wrong could I be? From the URL you gave on 'razorlands', you can see that they certainly had the technology to produce thin blades sufficient for shaving and also scissors capable of cutting nails and hair: "pinces a epiler' (tweezers for plucking) and ciseax a ressort'. I wonder if they had shaving cream!!!!!

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun May 17th, 2009, 9:05 pm

I don't know about other ancient cultures, Ken, but I believe that the Romans dry-shaved (ouch) Seems people have found many inventive ways of getting rid of unwanted hair over the centuries. I noticed mention of ancient Babylonian and Egyptian manicure tools, but couldn't see a picture of them anywhere, but presumably there were nail trimmers of some sort.
Last edited by annis on Sun May 17th, 2009, 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SarahWoodbury
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Location: Pendleton, Oregon
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Postby SarahWoodbury » Mon May 18th, 2009, 1:21 am

The Welsh were beardless, but grew elaborate mustaches in the Middle Ages. You have to wonder at the effort that took!

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Volgadon
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Location: Israel
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Postby Volgadon » Fri May 22nd, 2009, 9:03 am

Flint was used in the ancient Near East for shaving! With the exception of the Egyptians, most didn't shave, but merely trim their beards.

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Fri May 22nd, 2009, 9:24 am

There are two pictures in the Bayeux tapestry when King Edward is on his deathbed. To show the passage of time the attendant priest appears first clean-shaven and then covered in stubble! Always raises a chuckle. :)
An 11thC compendium of women's medicine and beauty tips called The Trotula has recipes for removing body hair. I've seen a pic of Viking razors online, but can't remember where. Found them once, didn't bookmark, and am kicking myself.
Thanks for the other urls. I'll go and look later on.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com


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