I recently received this correspondence in my Beard Coach inbox:
My beard is not quite to that length that I can try yet, but it is fairly straight
and scraggly especially the ends. What effect will a curling iron have on coarser
hair? I am wondering if it would look OK?
Good question! I say we start by turning to the history books for our answer. Here’s a nice image of an Akkadian sculpture of Sargon, their greatest ruler.
Do you know your ancient history? We’re talking about a culture that can claim title to establishing the first empire ever! This beard style was not limited to the Akkadians, though. You can find similar beard images from many early Mesopotamian cultures, such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans, and the Medians (pre-Persians).
If you look closely at the image above or many other ancient sculptures, you can see that the subject’s beard appears to be in ringlets. One could hypothesize that it was easier to sculpt a curly beard, but I can’t reason that this was truly the case. How hard would it have been to sculpt a straight beard? Wouldn’t chiseling out ringlets be much more difficult than carving out straight textures? Plus, look at the head hair of the sculpture above. No detail whatsoever despite the fact that the majority of ancient Mesopotamians probably had curly hair. Why only sculpt the beard as curled? Because a man’s beard was purposefully curled, and because his beard was a more important cultural icon than the hair of the head.
There exists further proof that ancient men did indeed curl their beards. Here’s an image of a set of ancient Egyptian bronze curling tongs.
Those things probably curled many a beard in their day. Note the sharpened blade at the bottom. Clearly this artifact was used to trim hair and also curl it when necessary. A brilliant 2-in-1 device.
Ancient men curled, oiled, and perfumed their beards for centuries. Many even braided theirs with gold fibers for festivals. A man’s beard was something to be adorned and reveled in at special times of the year – much like the Christmas trees of the current Western holiday season.
This beard-celebrating tradition continued well into the peak of Greek culture. The Greeks used heated tongs to curl their beards in the style illustrated below.
Sadly, the culture of long curled beards ended when Alexander the Great ordered that his soldiers be clean-shaven so that enemy soldiers would have fewer things to grab onto during battle. Apparently this idea was valid seeing as how he conquered pretty much the entire known world at the time. Too bad his soldiers looked like little boys.
Anyway, to directly answer the question, hell yes men can curl their beards! In fact it may be time for all of us to start taking care and carefully styling our beards again. I feel the beard gaining in popularity with mainstream people these days. It’s time for we innovators to take the next step. Shall we start to curl our beards? Maybe perfume them? Or even dust them with gold powder as our ancient bearded brethren did?