It is remarkable that throughout the world the races which are almost completely destitute of a beard, dislike hairs on the face and body, and take pains to eradicate them. The Kalmucks are beardless, and they are well known, like the Americans, to pluck out all straggling hairs; and so it is with the Polynesians, some of the Malays, and the Siamese. Mr. Veitch states that the Japanese ladies "all objected to our whiskers, considering them very ugly, and told us to cut them off, and be like Japanese men." The New Zealanders have short, curled beards; yet they formerly plucked out the hairs on the face. They had a saying that "there is no woman for a hairy man;" but it would appear that the fashion has changed in New Zealand, perhaps owing to the presence of Europeans, and I am assured that beards are now admired by the Maories.
On the other hand, bearded races admire and greatly value their beards; among the Anglo-Saxons every part of the body had a recognised value; "the loss of the beard being estimated at twenty shillings, while the breaking of a thigh was fixed at only twelve." In the East men swear solemnly by their beards. We have seen that Chinsurdi, the chief of the Makalolo in Africa, thought that beards were a great ornament. In the Pacific the Fijian's beard is "profuse and bushy, and is his greatest pride;" whilst the inhabitants of the adjacent archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are "beardless, and abhor a rough chin." In one island alone of the Ellice group "the men are heavily bearded, and not a little proud thereof."
We thus see how widely the different races of man differ in their taste for the beautiful. In every nation sufficiently advanced to have made effigies of their gods or of their deified rulers, the sculptors no doubt have endeavoured to express their highest ideal of beauty and grandeur. Under this point of view it is well to compare in our mind the Jupiter or Apollo of the Greeks with the Egyptian or Assyrian statues; and these with the hideous bas-reliefs on the ruined buildings of Central America.
I have met with very few statements opposed to this conclusion.
- On the Siamese, Prichard, ibid. vol. iv. p. 533. On the Japanese, Veitch in 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' 1860, p. 1104. On the New Zealanders, Mantegazza, 'Viaggi e Studi,' 1867, p. 526. For the other nations mentioned, see references in Lawrence, 'Lectures on Physiology,' &c. 1822, p. 272.
- Lubbock, 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, p. 321.
- Dr. Barnard Davis quotes Mr. Prichard and others for these facts in regard to the Polynesians, in 'Anthropological Review,' April, 1870, p. 185, 191.
- Ch. Comte has remarks to this effect in his 'Traité de Législation,' 3rd edit. 1837, p. 136.