The Origin of the Barber

“What one experiences in a barber’s shop the first time he enters one is what he always experiences in barbers’ shops afterward till the end of his days.” –Mark Twain

Did you know… that the Barber has been a highly respected tradesman since Ancient Time? It’s true! Relics of barber’s tools used for trimming and cutting have been found dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, Sumer and ancient Egypt.

Fun Fact: Barber comes from the Latin word ‘Barba’ meaning beard.

Barbers can be traced back to the primitive man where the medicine men and priests were also the barbers. Each tribe sported a unique haircut that served a superstitious or religious purpose. The belief was that there was a connection between your hair and spirits, both good and bad.

Ancient Egyptians strictly groomed their Pharaohs and priests, seeing the hair as messy and dirty.

The ancient Greeks would visit an agora, which served as a type of barbershop – a place to gossip, socialize, and (most importantly) get groomed, have their beards trimmed and shaved.

In Ancient Rome, it was considered a “rite of passage” for a young boy to have his first visit to the tonsor, another form of barbershop. Eventually becoming a daily visit for a shave, since it was believed that not having a beard separated the “free” men from the slaves.

Impressively in the Middle Ages, barbers were known as barber-surgeons. These barbers were not only cutting hair and shaving; but also pulling teeth, healing wounds and performing surgeries.

Taken in the early 1900s in Southern Colorado. If you look closely, you can see the client’s shaving mugs in the cabinet at the back. Another thing to notice is one sink for all and the shoe shine boy. He’s using a cobbler’s stand to work on client’s shoes. The stations are quite ornate.

Our Barbershops of today would not come about until the late 1800s, with the emergence of modern day conveniences, such as electricity. Early on, these barbershops would also serve as a gathering place to get a shave for very dapper gentlemen. A personal shaving razor, shaving mug, shave soap bar and personal brush would be kept in a cubicle at the shop. Beer, wine and whiskey were commonly served. In addition, shoeshines were prevalent and seen as well-respected traits… again, dapper!

Cabinet of Barber Mugs

Which brings us to Namaste Salon…

“When I was in high school, a person that I had looked up to had just returned to my small town to open up a barbershop, right across from the high school. The barbershop would eventually become a social place where everyone interacted as equals. This deeply impacted me. Not only did I love hair, but add the barbershop’s atmosphere of openness… a place to feel accepted and cool! Unlike a typical hair salon, guests face away from the mirror and towards each other for social reasons.”

-Rick Van De Riet, founder of Namaste Salon

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