The barber is an artisan profession and at the same time an ancient and noble art. The barber takes care of shaving the beard, washing, cutting and arranging the hair and his shop is called barberia. Barber is a term used for him, for women the term hairdresser is used.
Perhaps it is less known that in the past the barber also practiced surgery, especially low surgery, that is, he also took care of grinding the teeth, of bloodletting and performing small operations, even in prison, as testified by Silvio Pellico (1978-1854) according to which in his prison the barber had “the right to make them (the operations, Ed) by his hand.
But what is the story of the barber and his art in short?
Brief history of the barber
The art and history of the barber have their roots in the mists of time. According to historical studies already in the lower Paleolithic, the one who cut the hair was a person of high social rank, as sages and priests. Believing that the soul of the people resided in the hair, cutting it symbolically meant wiping out the evil accumulated to find new energy.
In short, barbers were revered, respected and respectable people. Archaeological finds in ancient Egypt dating back to 3500 BC testify to sharp stones considered to be barber tools. The history of barbers then passes through ancient Greeks and Romans, the latter always shaved and with hair in place, but only after having undergone the Hellenic influence, up to the invasion of the barbarians, who (re) bring to Europe the fashion of beards and long hair as it was in the early period of the Roman Empire. In 296 BC the introduction of real barbers in Rome is testified by a Roman senator.
Until 1745 the corporations of surgeons and the guilds of barbers worked together, then the division at the behest of King George II of Great Britain who separated the two guilds. The profession of barber was reduced only to hair and beard care. A similar decision was then made by King Louis XIV of France, with a consequent and progressive loss of prestige in the profession throughout Europe.