The very word ‘hair’ stirs up our emotions. Hair, the undisputed crown of human body covering the precious
Scalp and most parts of the body. It is amazing to know the amount of man hours that are spent everyday by human beings in attending to their hair; and equally enormous is the trade that goes on hair tonics, hair dyes, shampoo, hair-clips, flowers , wigs, crepe hair, combs, carcanels, snoods, epilating chemicals, peroxides, depilatory devices, coiffeurs’ and barber’s shops, etc. Religion and literature have also given lot of importance to them. So what is unique about hair? It seems to have the qualities of all the element in it, it is free and flowing like water; tough and tangible like earth; it converts the radiation from the sun rays into assimilable form of Vitamin D; it is light and lilts about in wind ; it is living because it is growing ; it is dead because it is without sensibility.
It is inextricably linked with life itself; it is treated as something very sacred and also as something sapless to be severed; it is important when it fimbrillates the face, but infectious when it falls into your food.
THE MYTHS AND MYSTERIES;
There are so many myths and mysteries about hair.
Ancient Romans believed that till a lock of hair is devoted to PROSERPINE, the Goddess, she refused to release the soul from the dying body. When DIDO mounted the funeral pile, she lingered in suffering till JUNO sent IRIS to cut off a lock of her hair.
From the red hair of JUDAS, there was a superstition that considered people with red hair as untrustworthy.
A man with black hair but red beard was considered worst of all. There is even an old rhyme ‘A Red Beard and Black Head catch him with a good trick and take him dead.’
In ancient Egypt, those who dedicated to the services of deity were required to tonsure. Many religions insisted on scalp-lock, a strand of hair left uncut, like a pigtail, occultists say it was left to mark the bregma, the occult aperture at the top of the cranium.
Young men of the Jewish sect of Nazarites who dedicated themselves to God never cut their hair, as it was considered as a source of strength, Samson was an example.
In India, the Sikhs prohibit men from ever cutting their hair. St.Paul said, “if a man have long hair. It is a shame unto him ( I .Cor.11:14).
In ancient times, people cut their hair only on an auspicious time and through a carefully selected barber and special days are set apart to dispose the cut hair amid
Recitations of incantations.
Very orthodox Hindus in ancient times supposedly had set only 9 occasions for cutting hair, i.e. pilgrimage, death of father/mother, preceptor, for purification, etc.
MYSTERY AND MAGIC:
It is still a mystery as to why hair grows only on some parts of the body and not all over. Sorcerers used to do black magic with hair. Witches tossed their tresses as a love charm.
GREY OR WHITE HAIR:
There is a myth about hair growing gray or white overnight or in a very short period out of fear, anxiety, sudden shocking emotions, etc.
Sir Thomas More’s hair was said to have whitened the night before his execution, Marie Antoinette grew gray from grief during her imprisonment and so on. Medically it is not possible to have such changes overnight.
The facts are normally the scalp alone has about one lakh hairs; and every fully grown hair, even though it is held in the follicle which gave it birth, is actually dead tissue and not accessible to change.The hair can only fall out, in time, leaving the follicle, to grow new hair. We all normally loss about 75 hairs a day and always have new hairs growing. Sometimes the rate of hair loss is more especially following illness, severe emotional shock, after pregnancy, etc. For unknown reasons white hair seem to have a firmer hold on the scalp than pigmented ones, so heavy loss usually removes more dark hairs than white ones and as a result the person is left with more white hairs.
So even when alopecia areata (a disease of sudden heavy loss of hair) sets in, the white hairs are spared and thus a person who had a black and white roof would be left only with white thatch, an inexplicable psilotic (falling of hair) phenomenon, but even this cannot happen overnight.
Probably this is one thing for which man cannot blame woman at any cost, because it is an inherited trait, especially from one’s father and other male ancestors and , of course, it also gives a comforting news that it indicates normal male sex hormone (testosterone) level and uncomforting news is that no amount of money spent on lotions and barbers can change it. Recently Dr.Angela Christiano of Columbia University. New York has started working on the possibility of finding out the gene possibly responsible for baldness after studying a Pakistani family which has been condemned to generations of hairlessness, i.e. ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS complete loss of head and body hair.
True dandruff is not a disease but is the little flakes shed by the skin of the scalp and the treatment to stop this is either with selenium sulphide or zinc pyridinethions.
It is said that true dandruff declines in late spring and least prevalent in summer as per the expert trichologist (Trichology is study of hair and its studies).
It is an unexplained congenital absence of hair.
THREE STEPS OF HAIR GROWTH:
First there is lanugo which is finely soft and usually pale in colour. In most cases, it is present only before birth, which is why small premature babies have a hairy look. This gradually gives way to vellus a little coarser and longer in length and of course the third stage is the final longer, darker, coarser hair.
HAIR AND LITERATURE:
Hair of women is supposed to have, and indeed it has, great attractive power over men and that’s why in most religions women are required to cover their hair during congregation.
In Byblos in Phoenicia women had the alternative of sacrificing their virginity to strangers in honour of the goddess Ashtart of shaving the head and offering her hair.
Chivalric knights of the middle ages dedicated to curtly love wore the pubic hair of their mistress in their hats as a token of services to them.
HAIR AND LITERATURE:
Alexander Pope has written a great verse titled ‘Rape of the Lock’ based on the story wherein Lord Petre cuts off a Lock of Miss Arabella Fermor’s hair.
Shakespeare writes in As You Like It:
“Rosalind:His very hair is of the dissembling colour
Ceta :Something browner than Judas”.
Byran writes in ‘The Prisoner of Chillo’.
“My hair is gray, but with years
Nor grew it white
In a single might,
As men’s have grown from sudden fears.”
Eugene O’Neill has written a play in 1922 titled ‘The Hairy Ape”
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE:
The beauty is hair has no single specific colour or shape, even in a person, its texture varies from one part of the body to another.It is not yet effectively proved what Dr. Patrick Dixon claimed in his book ‘The Genetic Revolution’ wrote “In 1987 I first raised the possibility of permanent hair colourant….
(with the help of ) hair follicle (synthetic) virus”.Remarks within brackets are mine.
HAIR AND LANGUAGE:
When you have a good shock, it is easy to switch and with a high light we can really brighten the face. Does it sound like some electrical circuit fixed on to your face. No. These are some of the several terms that hair has given to the English language. Shock is a thick, bushy mass of hair and switch is hair in a detached tress worked into a person’s own hair in certain hair styles and high light is a light streak in the hair.
In fact the various colours, many hair styles, different textures, several ways of combing at, have all given lots of words to the English tongue. Let us get into this vast world of hairy vocabulary.
Hair in different parts of the body are referred to by specific terms as pubic hair for hair in the region of the genital, mustache for hair beneath the nose and above the upper lip, beard for hair that sprouts from the chin, whiskers for that runs down from the head on to the cheeks before the ears, cowlick for tuft of hair across the forehead, love lock for lock of hair on forehead.
There are some words for types of combing as; to tease meaning combing hair downwards near the root to bulk it up; to crimp for curling the hair tightly.
There are numerous terms for uncombed hair a well, such as disheveled, rumpled, unkempt, tousled, ungroomed and blowzy.
The array of colours of hair are referred to as titan or strawberry blond for reddish gold colour; grizzle for gray hair covering; flazen for pale yellow hair; auricomous for golden hair and carroty for red hair.
A profusion of terms for different textures of hair covering as crinite for soft hair covering; xanthochroid for fair hair and skin; shaggy for loosely hanging lump of hair covering; incanous for short white hair covering; holosericeous for short, silky hair covering; ciliate for stiff bristles of hair.
A great many adjectives for types of hair as ULOTRICHOUS for tight curled hair as that of Africans; Ringlet for single curl of hair; SHOCK for thick bushy mass of hair; TRESSES for thick, long flowing locks of hair; LISSOTRICHOUS for long hair; BARBELLATE for short and stiff hair;LEIOTRICHOUS for smooth hair; EUTHYCOMIC for straight hair; TOMENTOUS for thickly matted hair.
Hair like appearance in several things starting from the sky above to the tiny seed beneath the ground have also flooded ,English LANGUAGE with words like: VILLUS for hair like projections in the small intestine; CILIA for hair like threads on a cell; CAPILLIARY for hair like thin tubes; FRILL or RUFF for attractive hair or feathers projecting from an animal’s neck; COMA for the hairs on the seed coat of some seeds; HACKLES for hair on the back of an back of an animal’s neck; VIBRISAE for sensitive hairs on either side of a cat’s mouth; TRICHOMY for hair like growth on plant surface;TRICHITIC for hair like minerals in rocks;FIBRATUS for clouds that are hair like in composition;
HAIRY WOODPECKER for Dendrocopos villosus, a North American woodpecker; HAIRBRUSH CACTUS for Pachycereus pectenaboriginum, a spiny cactus of Mexico whose burlike fruits used as combs by the aborigines; CILICE or HAIRCLOTH or HAIRSHIRT formerly worn by monks made of hair from the manes and tails of horses woven with a cotton warp; HAIRYTILED MOLE, a blackish North American mole, Parscalops breweri, which has a short hairy tail;HAIRY WATTLE is a hair like shrub;
Acacia pubescens with yellow flowers;HAIR WORM for small slender worms of the family of Trichostrongylidae; HAIR TRIGGER for a trigger that releases the firearm even by a very slight touch; HAIR SPRING, a fine spiral spring used for oscillating the balance of a time piece; HAIRTAIL for cutlassfish from the resemblance of its tail to strands of hair; HAIR PIECE for a toupee; HAIRPIN MEGARON for a free standing megaron (in PreHellenic Greek Architecture) having a long principal chamber and a semicircular end opposite the end at which the porch is located; HAIRNET for a cap of loose net made of silk or human hair for holding hair in place; HAIRPIN BEND for a road that bends in ‘U’ shape like a hairpin, AHIR STREAK for small dark butterflies of the family Lycaenidae which have hair like tails on the hind wings; HAIR STROKE for a fine line in printing or writing; HAIR’S BREADTH, precisely 48th part of an inch, is called hair’s breadth; HAIR CELL for an epithelial cell having hairlike processes as that of the organ of Corti; HAIR SEAL for seals having coarse hair without soft underfur.
When fear causes a hair raising experience we know it is called horripilation but do you know the words for fear of hair are TRICHOPATHOPHOBIA and CHAETOPHOBIA.
The habit of breaking off hair with the finger nails is TRICHORRHEXOMANIA. There is also an ancient art of character reading from the hair known as TRICHOMANCY wherein the natural waves, whorls and direction of growth are read for signs. Some animals do shed their hair which is known as MOULTINC.
The English idioms too seem to convey some intrinsic and long held views and values about hair as we can see from the following idioms:
1.Against the hair- meaning contrary to the nature .
2.Both of hair-meaning similar in disposition.
3.To a hair or to the turn of a hair-meaning to a nicety.
4.To let one’s hair down-meaning to behave in free informal manner .
5.To make one’s hair stand on end –meaning to terrify.
6.Keep your hair on-meaning don’t lose your temper.
7.To split hairs-meaning to argue over petty points.
8.To tear one’s hairs-meaning to show signs of anxiety .
9.Not turn a hair-meaning not to show fear .
10.Have a hair-rising experience.
Bushy and frizzy hair style is called AFRO; fringe cut hair straight across the forehead is BANGS; piled up and combed hair is BEEHIVE; hair that is cut evenly all around the head is BOB; hair that is puffed out through back combing is BOUFFANT; long hair rolled into a knot or bun at the back is CHIGHNON: tight parallel plait set close to the head, as is popular among African women is termed as CONROWS; hair of tight curls and waves if CRIMPS ; hair cut short and standing stiffly upright is said to be EN BROSS; hair style with high quiff resembling a ducktail is termed as DUCKTAIL; very short cut hair like a school boy is ETON CROP; hair gathered at the back like a cylindrical roll is FRENCH PLEAT; curled fringe hair across the forehead is FRIZETTE; regular light waves of hair set close to the head is MARCEL WAVE; Spiky sweep of hair at the center of a bald/shaved head is MOHICAN; Straight hair with the ends curled inwards shoulder length at the back is called PAGEBOY; The style of the 18th century women that of hair brushed up from the forehead and turned back over a pad is POMPADOUR and of course another 18th century style of hair piled high in rolled puffs is called POUFFE.
HAIR AND NASA
Philip McCroy who trims hair in Madison, was watching the television coverage of the 1989 oil spill in Alaska, wherein he saw an otter being rescued. Its fur was saturated with oil, and he wondered if human hair would also trap it. He then stuffed 5 pounds of hair from his salon into a pair of tights, filled his son’s padding pool with water then added motor oil. He found that the oil was absorbed on to the surface of the hair and could be recovered by squeezing the tights out. His idea is being developed by the U.S. Space Agency at NASA ‘s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville. Initial tests have proved remarkably effective – a gallon of oil was absorbed in less than two minutes.
HOW TO AVOID PREMATURE GREYING OF HAIR
To avoid premature graying of hair you need pantothenic acid, para-amino benzoic acid and inositol. All these vitamins belong to the B group so vitamin B must be more. Juice of amaranth leaves when applied helps to retain hair’s natural blackness and hence avoids graying of hair. Amla pieces boiled in coconut oil is also good for retaining blackness of hair. But the best and cheapest way is to keep the scalp dirt free, preferably rubbing it with cold water, because this releases heat, activates glands and increases circulation of blood to the scalp and follicles, this is important because it is the glands of the scalp which secretes an oily substance called sebum which is the source of nutrition and which is responsible for giving luster and blackness to the hair.
HAIR IN MEDICAL TERMS:
It is the medical inspection of hair. For the common man, the medical world defined hair as a ‘keratinized threadlike outgrowth from the skin’. The medical importance of hair is too great to explain in detail here. However let me confine myself
to explain some basic facts and terms and the reason why we must not cut the hair of our children too short.
AUDITORY HAIR is an epithelial cell to which are attached delicate hair like processes. These are present in the ear in the spiral organ of Corti, concerned with hearing and in the crista ampullaris, macula utriculi and macula sacculi concerned with equilibrium.
BAMBOO HAIR or TRICHORRHEXIS NODOSA is sparse brittle hair with bamboo nodes. These are actually partial fractures of the hair shaft which are caused by an atrophic condition. BEADED HAIR is swellings and constrictions in the hair shaft due to a developmental defect known as monilethrix.
HAIR BURROWING is the horizontal growth of hair under the skin causing a foreign body reaction.
GUSTATORY HAIR-fine hair like processes extending from the ends of gustatory cells in a taste bud. They project through the inner pore of a taste bud.
KINKY HAIR- short, sparse, kinky hair with poor pigmentation is a hair disease.
TACTILE HAIR is one that is capable of receiving tactile or touching stimuli.
HAIR BALL is the mass of hair or concretion in the stomach, also known as TRICHOBEZOAR (from the Arabic word bazahr meaning protecting against poison).
Why we must not cut the hair of children too short? Of all the vitamins that are available in nature, the most limited is vitamin D and the only natural food within the common man’s reach in which it is available is milk. Other than this, the only other way to get vitamin D (available in nature) in an assimilable form is with the help of hair. Vitamin D is very essential for the growth and development of all tissues and organs of the body; it is a major factor of calcium metabolism of the organism.
HOW HAIR PROVIDES THIS?
Each hair is an accumulation of pigmented (coloured) cells. This pigment is of the melanin type which has got special affinity for the ultra-violet rays of the sun.The solar radiations produce important photo-synthetic chemical developments in the hair cells. The fatty secretion of the skin feeds the hair with the pre-cursor chemical of vitamin D which is decomposed and recomposed in an assimilable form in the hair cells with the help of solar rays.
Solar energy is the most important and freely available inexhaustible source of energy. So we must utilize it to the optimum benefit for our help. The best way to do that is to grow and maintain intact hair- a tissue that absorbs solar energy. Normally parents tend to cut the hair of their children short because they find it difficult to keep the scalp of their children clean. But they would do well to remember that the need for vitamin D is greatest during the active growing period of childhood.
Hair and human superiority
One aspect of evolutionary superiority is that human being alone possesses the largest hair over head and so on the face, among the whole animal world.