Saturday Scenes

Wed 9 September 2009

Where are the Beards?

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 16:27

On the 5th of September, 1698, Tsar Peter I of Russia imposed a tax on beards.

Russia Now

For centuries Russian men had worn long flowing beards. Not only was it a traditional culture, it embodied Orthodox views on manhood and image. Many considered it a sin to shave and removal was a deeply symbolic act. Of course, Peter’s new rule was difficult to get accustomed to and caused hardship for those struggling to part with their beloved beards.

In order to enforce the new fashion order which was adopted in other European countries, Peter levied a heavy tax on those still much attached to their facial hair. All men except priests had to pay up to 100 roubles (a small fortune in those years) annually.

However, much of Peter’s cultural revolution only affected the upper classes of Russian society. Peasants were allowed to wear beards in their villages, but were required to shave it off when entering the city or pay a one kopek coin for it.

Those who had paid the tax were given a copper token which depicted a moustache and a beard, indicating that the beard tax had been paid. The medal also proclaimed “The beard is a useless burden”.

And in this week’s set of scenes from Saturday, 5 September 2009, there is not a single beard to be seen. I’m so disappointed. I thought you guys were edgy and rebellious!

Nevertheless, the photos are great with lots of reading and writing this week. Take a look:

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