In several of the tribes of North America the hair on the head grows to a wonderful length; and Catlin gives a curious proof how much this is esteemed, for the chief of the Crows was elected to this office from having the longest hair of any man in the tribe, namely ten feet and seven inches. The Aymaras and Quichuas of S. America, likewise have very long hair; and this, as Mr. D. Forbes informs me, is so much valued as a beauty, that cutting it off was the severest punishment which he could inflict on them. In both the Northern and Southern halves of the continent the natives sometimes increase the apparent length of their hair by weaving into it fibrous substances. Although the hair on the head is thus cherished, that on the face is considered by the North American Indians "as very vulgar," and every hair is carefully eradicated.
This practice prevails throughout the American continent from Vancouver's Island in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south. When York Minster, a Fuegian on board the "Beagle," was taken back to his country, the natives told him be ought to pull out the few short hairs on his face. They also threatened a young missionary, who was left for a time with them, to strip him naked, and pluck the hair from his face and body, yet he was far from being a hairy man. This fashion is carried so far that the Indians of Paraguay eradicate their eyebrows and eyelashes, saying that they do not wish to be like horses. (63. 'North American Indians,' by G. Catlin, 3rd ed., 1842, vol. i. p. 49; vol. ii, p. 227. On the natives of Vancouver's Island, see Sproat, 'Scenes and Studies of Savage Life,' 1868, p. 25. On the Indians of Paraguay, Azara, 'Voyages,' tom. ii. p. 105.)
It is remarkable that throughout the world the races which are almost completely destitute of a beard dislike hairs on the face and body, and take pains to eradicate them. The Kalmucks are beardless, and they are well known, like the Americans, to pluck out all straggling hairs; and so it is with the Polynesians, some of the Malays, and the Siamese. Mr. Veitch states that the Japanese ladies "all objected to our whiskers, considering them very ugly, and told us to cut them off, and be like Japanese men." The New Zealanders have short, curled beards; yet they formerly plucked out the hairs on the face. They had a saying that "there is no woman for a hairy man;" but it would appear that the fashion has changed in New Zealand, perhaps owing to the presence of Europeans, and I am assured that beards are now admired by the Maories. (64. On the Siamese, Prichard, ibid. vol. iv. p. 533. On the Japanese, Veitch in 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' 1860, p. 1104. On the New Zealanders, Mantegazza, 'Viaggi e Studi,' 1867, p. 526. For the other nations mentioned, see references in Lawrence, 'Lectures on Physiology,' etc., 1822, p. 272.)
On the other hand, bearded races admire and greatly value their beards; among the Anglo-Saxons every part of the body had a recognised value; "the loss of the beard being estimated at twenty shillings, while the breaking of a thigh was fixed at only twelve." (65. Lubbock, 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870, p. 321.) In the East men swear solemnly by their beards. We have seen that Chinsurdi, the chief of the Makalolo in Africa, thought that beards were a great ornament. In the Pacific the Fijian's beard is "profuse and bushy, and is his greatest pride"; whilst the inhabitants of the adjacent archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are "beardless, and abhor a rough chin." In one island alone of the Ellice group "the men are heavily bearded, and not a little proud thereof." (66. Dr. Barnard Davis quotes Mr. Prichard and others for these facts in regard to the Polynesians, in 'Anthropolog. Review,' April 1870, pp. 185, 191.)