- Gordon Dumoulin
Our residents' barber... the culture of hair cutting in China
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬…
Unfortunately he is not visiting anymore since yesterday as our residence compound has gone in lock down, no exit or entrance anymore but thankfully still being able to go outside, walking around and kids playing in the compound).
Our residents' home barber has been here for years during spring, summer and autumn. Riding his cargo tricycle with all hair dressing supplies, he finds his spot in the compound depending on the season, a warming sunny spot in early spring or a shady shelter under trees during Sanfu, China’s hottest summertime.
His clientele are mostly elderly men and boys he is cutting or shaving, at least I have never seen a lady or girl in his chair 😊
Hair cutting and hair style has been a vivid part in Chinese culture since ancient times. The most important hair cutting day every year is the day of 龙抬头 or Longtaitou Festival (literally 'the dragon raising its head'). This festival takes place on the second day of the second month of the new Chinese lunar year. Since ancient times, it is believed that cutting your hair right after New Year will bring bad luck. Different tales tell different stories but a common saying is that cutting your hair in the first month would lead to the death of your uncle from mom’s side.
Longtaitou Festival is a very auspicious day for fortune right after the first lunar month, a perfect day for hair cutting and styling, a new beginning, a new look. Every year many hair salons are fully booked on this day.
In ancient times cutting hair was considered unfilial. Traditionally, adult Han Chinese did not cut their hair for philosophical and cultural reasons. According to the Classic of Filial Piety, Confucius said :
“We are given our body, skin and hair from our parents; which we ought not to damage. This idea is the quintessence of filial duty. (身體髮膚，受之父母，不敢毀傷，孝至始也).
As a result of this ideology, both men and women wound their hair into a bun (a topknot) or other various hairstyles and hair cutting was considered a punishment or humiliation.
Another ancient hair cutting tradition in China still vivid for many is the first haircut of a newborn baby, usually after one to three months to shed the birth hair they received from the womb.
It is also a part of the celebration to end Zuo Yue Zi (“sitting the month”), a tradition of the first month after delivery during which mother and baby stay indoor at home to secure the health and recovery of both. In ancient times. the first month was considered the crucial time for both mom's and newborn's future health or even survival.