Beards and mustaches

   Hair that grows on a man's chin and cheeks is called a beard. A mustache is hair on his upper lip. Whether men let these hairs grow, or shave them off, is usually a matter of taste and style. In other cases, long hair on the face is a religious custom. This is true of the orthodox (strict) Jewish groups, such as the Hasidim. Some of the Protestant groups, such as the Mennonites of the American West and the Amish of Pennsylvania, also wear mustaches and beards.
   Men have worn mustaches and beards throughout most of history. Ancient men considered the beard a sign of full manhood. Early German tribes thought a clean-shaven face meant that a man was a slave. Ancient Egyptians dyed their beards a reddish color. Sometimes they braided them with golden cords. Egyptian women sometimes wore false beards made of metal. They held these metal beards in place like masks, with ribbons tied around their heads. Mesopotamians oiled and curled their beards so that they hung in ringlets.
   Beards and mustaches went out of style in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But after a long period of bare faces, beards and mustaches became high fashion again. Side whiskers, or "mutton chops," were very stylish in London in the 1800s. In the United States, Civil War General Ambrose Burnside wore whiskers that became known as sideburns.
   Soldiers in the British army often grew "walrus" mustaches, like those of Arctic mammals. Americans of the nineteenth century often curled their mustaches into long "handlebars," that looked like bicycle handlebars. In the twentieth century, short hair and a clean-shaven face were considered manly until the middle 1960s.