Picture of Gerald of Wales

Gerald of Wales

places mentioned

Book 1, Ch. 11: Their cutting of their hair

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Concerning their cutting of their hair, their care of their teeth, and shaving of their beard

The men and women cut their hair close round to the ears and eyes. The women, after the manner of the Parthians, cover their heads with a large white veil, folded together in the form of a crown.

Both sexes exceed any other nation in attention to their teeth, which they render like ivory, by constantly rubbing them with green hazel and wiping with a woollen cloth. For their better preservation, they abstain from hot meats, and eat only such as are cold, warm, or temperate. The men shave all their beard except the moustaches (GERNOBODA). This custom is not recent, but was observed in ancient and remote ages, as we find in the works of Julius Caesar, who says, (21) "The Britons shave every part of their body except their head and upper lip;" and to render themselves more active, and avoid the fate of Absalon in their excursions through the woods, they are accustomed to cut even the hair from their heads; so that this nation more than any other shaves off all pilosity. Julius also adds, that the Britons, previous to an engagement, anointed their faces with a nitrous ointment, which gave them so ghastly and shining an appearance, that the enemy could scarcely bear to look at them, particularly if the rays of the sun were reflected on them.

Gerald of Wales, The Description of Wales (Oxford, Mississippi, 1997)

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