Chonmage: The hair of the samurai

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They say that the hair is the frame of the face, but in addition, it also has great importance in the cultural aspect. O Chomage (丁髷) is the name given to a traditional Japanese hairstyle used by samurai in antiquity.

In this hairstyle, the front part of the head is shaved and then the lower part where the hair is longer is oiled and then a folded ponytail is tied at the top of the head.

This hairstyle became common in Japanese society, but initially it was hardly used by samurai men for the purpose of securing it. Kabuto (兜, 冑), a Japanese helmet that was part of the armor. This also contributed to the head not being too sound because of the heat, as the shaved part favored being more airy.

There's a different way to get rid of unwanted heat isn't it?! Now let's get to know a little more about this hairstyle.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

When did samurai hair appear?

The origin of this peculiar hairstyle has to do with the use of ancient hats by nobles in China around the turn of the century. Heian period (794 and 1185). But it was not until the Asuka Period (592 to 710) that Chonmage became popular with Japanese culture.

But it can be said that the Chonmage is related to the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). This period was marked by heavy restrictions and political-economic isolation in Japan and a hard internal control that regulated the fiefs through the law code.

It was at this time that Japanese men had to adhere to the original Chonmage hairstyle in obedience to the demands of the time. In addition, they had to shave their beard completely.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

samurai hair pride

The hairstyle became popular among the citizens due to the changing appearances of the samurai. But the pattern was not completely followed, other variations of Chonmage emerged. And as the hairstyle was introduced into society it became a symbol of pride among the population. What was once limited to only civil servants of the Japanese empire became something that anyone could join.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

The samurai hair today

After the Meiji period underwent a restoration process, the Chonmage ceased to be used (19th century). This hairstyle is currently still seen by actors Kabuki and it is very common to be used by sumo wrestlers.

However, the fighters did not adopt the front part of the shaved head. When they belong to the sekitori category, they usually wear the hairstyle with a topknot known as a ginkgo leaf (õichõ).

The final part of the topknot is spread out like an open fan. There are specific hairdressers to do the hairstyle of the fighters called Tokoyama.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

Samurai hairstyle in the movies

Who has never watched a movie or anime with samurai? Films especially help a lot when we want to know with images how a certain time and culture was.

When it comes to conveying the reality of period clothes and hairstyles, feature films go to great lengths to get as close to reality as possible.

To write this article I was inspired by some movies to better understand how Chonmage was used by samurai. This hairstyle looks really good in the movie 13 Assassins. This movie is inspired by ''The Seven Samurai''. 13 Assassins is set in the year 1844 and tells the story of 13 samurai who are summoned to kill a powerful local leader. The most interesting thing is that they use Chonmage in its original form, as well as the costumes during fights.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

Now in the drawing category, most of you have already seen a scene from The Samurai Jack, this drawing is North American, but has its inspiration in Japanese culture.

In this drawing, a samurai has the objective of defeating a mage, only he is transferred to the future. To characterize the samurai character well, the creator was concerned with portraying the Chonmage but a little differently. The character does not have the front of his head shaved and his bun is on top of his head.

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

The samurai coke or topknot

The fact that the Chonmage has fallen out of favor doesn't mean it can't have its variations today. You may have heard of the samurai bun which is also known as topknot. This hairstyle is likely to be the modernization of Chonmage.

This hairstyle does not have a pattern, but basically the top part of the hair is made into a bun while the bottom part is left loose or it is made shorter with a close cut. Or simply long hair tied up in a more casual bun.

And would you have the courage to adopt a style adapted from Chonmage?

Chonmage: the hair of the samurai

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