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Nearly every Indian tribe, especially those that were well organized, paid particular attention to having the hair neatly trimmed. There were three general reasons why the hair was cut. First there was the reason of convenience and cleanliness. Long hair became tangled and dirty; it was not easy to care for. Second, it became a custom for tribes to adopt special types of hair dressing, whereby they might be known and distinguished. Third, in special instances the manner in which the hair was cut became a symbol of some belief or superstition in magical power. As a rule the northern Indians, except those, perhaps, on the Pacific coast, had little hair on the face and almost none on the body. Some did raise sparse beards and mustaches, but as a rule the hair of the face, sometimes even to the eyebrows, was removed.

There were three general methods of removing hair. In ordinary practice any one might be used, but because of certain religious beliefs one way was sometimes used to the exclusion. of others. The first, and perhaps most natural way to remove hair, was to pull it out. It was a severe test of a warrior's courage to have his excess hair pulled out one hair at a time, but it was not half as bad as to have it yanked out by the fistful. Just how it did feel was told me by my Wichita interpreter.

He had been courting two sisters and could not decide which he liked the best, as both were tall, powerful women who could work in the fields and cook in the lodge with great excellence. For many moons he had tested their cooking, until at last they grew weary with suspense. Finally they decided that the young man had wanted food more than he had wanted a wife. This was wrong; the man was not a natural warrior. It must be his hair that was to blame; it was not cut in proper style. With this belief, when the youth had called one evening and proposed to each maiden with equal ardor, both girls rushed upon him and knocked him down. Then they literally sat upon him. One cushioned herself upon his thighs where she could pummel his stomach and the other sat upon his chest, from which vantage point she began to pluck out his hairs one by one, calling upon him to be brave like his ancestors and not wince at having his hair cut in ancient style. When all was finished he looked like a warrior indeed, and he had blood in his eye. All ardor had left his heart and he turned his back on the maidens who had so kindly trimmed him. "It hurt most mightily awful," he said. And his remark explains how every warrior felt when his hair was plucked out. Some have said, however, that when the custom is kept up from childhood, the nerves become accustomed to the shock and little pain is experienced.

For plucking out hair the Indians had tweezers of wood or pinchers made by the shell of a fresh-water mussel, which had a natural spring hinge. This was easily held in .the hand and its sharp lips would cut into the hair at its roots so that it was easily "gnawed off."

True cutting, or rather shaving, was done by means of flint or obsidian (volcanic glass) knives and razors. These were long flakes chipped from a cylindrical core. They were very sharp and cut with great efficiency. The obsidian razors of the Mexicans were particularly useful, and as many as twenty to forty might be struck from one cylinder. They had the advantage of having a rustless edge. Those that have been found cut as well to-day as when originally made. When they became dulled through use (by having the edge nicked and smoothed by the hair) they could not be resharpened, but were thrown away or reworked into small arrowheads.

Another method requiring greater skill was sometimes employed. This was burning the hair from the head by use of tapers or hot stones. The eastern woodland In­dians often used this way of getting their hair "cut."

The singeing process was aided by the use of a comb, much as it is by modern barbers. The comb was shoved under the hair and the taper applied. The singeing-stones were long flat pieces of rock that would not explode when heated to a dull red. The cool end was wrapped in a piece of skin and the hot end rubbed over the hair. Where the hair was long it was grasped, held upright and the stone applied as near the roots as was comfortable.

After cutting or singeing hair, the scalp was rubbed with oils and even perfumes. Bear oil was the 'standard' hair dressing in many localities, though buffalo fat, sun­flower oil, and deer tallow were not despised.

From the Indian How Book by Arthur C. Parker