Barbers and barbershops have been an integral part of society since Ancient Egyptian times. Over hundreds of years, the profession and role of the barbershop have seen quite a transformation. Here is the history and evolution of the barbershop.
The origins of barbering date all the way back to Ancient Egypt, around 4000 BC, when sharpened oyster shells were the tools used to cut hair. During this time, people highly respected barbers, and they took on the responsibility of cutting the most esteemed people of society’s hair, such as the priests and pharaohs. In Ancient Egypt, hairstyles differentiated between the class systems. For example, the enslaved people would have a particular hairstyle, while the clergy and kings would have a completely different hairstyle.
The next culture in history that showed great importance for the profession of barbering was the Ancient Greeks around the fifth-century BC. Beards served as a symbol of strength, power, and masculinity in Greece at this time. Therefore, people held men with full and well-kept beards in high regard. In Athens, barbershops became the epicenter for social activities, causing barbers to become powerful and influential members of society. Men of authority and influence frequented the barbershops, where they would often share stories, ideas, and other topics of interest with one another.
In the early Christian Era, from 1 AD to 1000 AD, society didn’t have many well-educated people. Few people could read or write. People have dubbed this period “the Dark Ages” because of this lack of education and knowledge. During this time, the monks and the priests were the most educated people in society. Because there were no trained surgeons or doctors in the Dark Ages, the monks and priests took on the surgeon’s role. So priests began performing “bloodletting,” a technique used to cure people of most diseases.
However, during the council of Tours in 1163 AD, it was deemed unholy for members of the clergy to draw blood from the human body. Thus, they passed the role of the surgeon to the barbers of the time. Adopting the name “surgeon-barbers,” they began performing bloodletting, cauterization, dentistry, and other various duties.
Eventually, after several hundred years of the Surgeon-Barber Era, people began to question the skill set of surgeon-barbers and pushed for a separation between the two professions. In 1745, the association of the barbers and surgeons officially ended, causing the professions to finally part ways.
In 1893, A. B. Moler established a barber school in Chicago. The students learned hairstyling, shaving, facials, and the like. This school sparked a rise in the popularity of barbershops again. Other barber schools began to pop up in other states around America.
Barbershops in the present day have evolved quite a bit since the origins of barbering back in Egyptian times. The techniques and tools used have upgraded and improved over the years. However, the social element of barbershops has largely remained the same.
The history and evolution of the barbershop show how barbering has elevated and evolved into what it is today. Check out Salon Equipment Center for affordable barber chairs for your shop today.