Viking Age Hairstyles, Haircare, and Personal Grooming

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Viking Age Hairstyles, Haircare, and Personal Grooming

Message  LA le Lun 19 Mar - 10:48

> Fiche The Viking Answer Lady

Vikings were the among the cleanliest of all Europeans during the Middle Ages. Failing to keep oneself clean was an unusual practice, perhaps reserved for those in mourning.

Everyday, in a basin of water, usually in the morning upon arising, they combed their hair, washed faces, noses, mouths and heads (sagas often describe a woman washing a man's hair for him often as a gesture of affection). They probably washed their hands before meals and frequently changed clothes.

They are performed on Saturday. In summer, bathing could be performed in lakes, streams, or within the bath-houses found on every large farm (like the Finnish sauna, or in tub bathing), while in winter the heated bath-house would be the primary location for bathing. In Iceland where natural hot springs are common, the naturally heated water was incorporated into the bath-house.

Hair grooming
Their combed to clean and order the hair wetted by the washing, with single-piece combs or composite combs made of several pieces of skeletal material, most commonly deer antler split or sawed into individual plates riveted between the two spine pieces, mostly made out of imported (whale) bone or (elephant, walrus) ivory; most of them have teeth on both sides of the spine, with fine teeth probably used to control pest on one side and coarser teeth on the other for combing out and style the hair.

Single-piece comb

Composite comb

Men's combs most often are found with a comb case, where an open area in the middle provided a place for the matching comb's teeth to be slotted, protecting them from damage. Women, on the other hand, apparently carried their combs inside a purse or pouch, as their graves rarely include comb cases. The one we found were generally intricately ornamented (some call these "liturgical combs").

Comb with case

Ibn Fadlan noted that men of the Rus bleached their beards to a saffron yellow using a soft, strongly basic soap, where the excess lye in the mixture provided the bleaching action; some scholars therefore believe they bleached their hair as well. Pliny the Elder in Historia Naturalis noted this among Germanic tribes, and states that men were more likely to bleach their hair than women: Prodest et sapo, Galliarum hoc inventum rutilandis capillis. Fit ex sebo et cinere, optimus fagino et caprino, duobus modis, spissus ac liquidus, uterque apud Germanos maiore in usu viris quam feminis. (Soap is the invention of the Gauls and this is used to redden the hair. It is made from fat and ashes -- the best is beech wood ash and goat fat, the two combined, thick and clear. Many among the Germans use it, the men more than the women).

Men's Hairstyles
• Thralls (slaves) would wore very short hair.
• Average men would wore their hair about collar or shoulder length, and his beard as long as was comfortable for him.
• A professional warrior might make other choices for hairstyle to minimize the hazard of having hair or beard grabbed in combat.

Women's Hairstyles
• Thrall women would wear they hair short.
• Unmarried girls would wear their hair long and loose, or confined with the kransen (circlet) in formal occasions.
• Spouses would gather their hair together (knot on the back or top of the head, two braids, maybe ponytail), sometimes under a cap (rounded of rectangular), veil (hustrulinet) or headdress as influenced by christianity.


Caps or veils


• Brunettes would bleach they hair red or red-gold.

Grooming tools
• Earspoons were used to clean the ears; they could be made of bone, ivory, silver and other metals.

• Tweezers used for plucking the eyebrow could be made in iron, silver, or even in antler or bone.

• Razor blades were used for shaving.
• Women often wore ornamented earspoon or tweezers dangling from one of their brooches on a chain.


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Date d'inscription : 26/02/2012

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