This is not just a part of the Cossack haircut forelock, chuprin, or haircut “under the Makita” (Polish). There’s a story behind every haircut. In this article, we’ll discuss the history of unusual hairstyles and what they meant for the Cossacks Chub Taras Bulba.
First, let’s remember what one of the most well-known Cossacks in literature looked like. Taras is an older man with a shaved head and a forelock (oseledets). He shaved his head entirely but grew a long mustache that hung down. His face is full of scars that he got in battle. As you can see, one of the most striking Cossacks is the one with the traditional forelock.
Different Cossack Haircuts
It was essential for the Cossacks to have hair. The Cossacks didn’t have to wear a forelock, but it was a sign that they were part of one community, clan, or village. Wainors always wore a hat that was pushed down on one side. Let’s look at what the Cossacks wore on their heads and how they differed. Among the well-known, the following are stand out:
- forelock “bastard”;
- Choprin’s hairstyle,
- “brace,” hairstyle “under the pot,” or “under the watermelon peel.”
The Circassian Cossacks were the only ones who wore this style of hair. Boys who passed the initiation rite were given a “crest” haircut. After the child became a warrior, his head was shaved around the edges, leaving what is now called the “Iroquois.” A slightly insulting name for the Slavic warriors was based on this kind of crest. In an exciting twist, the Persians who lived nearby also used the word “Cossack” to mean “crest.”
The chub “osledets” or chuprin could only be worn by warriors. It’s an ancient tradition rather than a hairstyle. For example, for the Normans, it was a promise to serve Odin, a god with one eye. According to folklore, the one-eyed emperor and his entire army sported a style of hair that looked like this. The haircuts worn by the pagan warriors of Kiev’s Prince Svyatoslav are documented.
What importance has been attached by the Cossacks in the forelock?
Cossacks with a lot of battle experience were the only ones who could wear a forelock like this. It was believed that the more a man went through the war, the longer the lock of hair could be. This kind of Cossack was called a “chuprinder.” Young warriors cut their forelocks.
There was a custom to lay a Cossack forelock solely on the left ear. People used to think that an angel sat on the right side of the warrior and the devil sat on the left. So, the Cossacks used their long hair to push it away. Warriors who respected Cossack traditions, which were called “grassroots partnership” traditions, saw the forelock as a mark of distinction, just like a sword, medal, or order. Some historians think that the Cossack forelock in Kievan Rus was a sign of coming from a noble family.
A description of the son of Princess Olga-Svyatoslav Igorevich that says the great commander had a bald head with a single lock of hair on one side has lasted until today. He also had a long mustache that hung down and an oversized earring in one ear. All three signs had to do with the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks showing up. What does the word “forelock” mean? One theory says it has been derived from the word “chob.” The meaning of this word is bunch. No matter where the brave warriors came from, they could always tell who they were by how their hair was styled.
The Cossacks also thought that hair had energy, which meant that they would lose protection if they cut it all off. People also believe that a Cossack needs a forelock so that if he dies on the battlefield, an angel can pick up his hair and take it to heaven. He was also called “redeeming.” Another legend explains why the Cossacks sport such a distinctive hairdo. A forelock is a lock of hair. The Lord had to get a Cossack out of the hell cauldron for it because someone who kills people, even if they are enemies, can’t be clean before God.
The fight between the kings and the Cossacks over their hairstyles
Russian rulers didn’t like how the Cossacks wore their hair. Peter 1 told him to get rid of his mustache and earflaps. From this, you could only pay off a significant amount. Catherine 2 didn’t like the Cossacks very much, so she called their forelocks “herrings.” In Ukrainian, it sounds like “students.”
The value of hair for Cossacks
The hair that remains after the haircut carries information about the person, so with their help, you can harm the owner Cossacks thought this was true. After the haircut, they buried them because a piece of hair could fall into the hands of the enemy and hurt the owner. The Cossack tradition of cutting boys when they are one year old has come to our time for the first time. The baby’s godmother is involved in the process, cutting the baby and other family members. The procedure is done without the mother’s help.
Customs of the Cossacks about Hair
When the soldiers buried a friend killed by a traitor, they cut off a piece of his forelock hair and put it in the grave. This meant they would find the killer and get even with them. Gogol also talked about Taras Bulba’s front hair and the curse. The older man pulled a piece of hair from his head and cursed the day he had a child who turned out to be a godless traitor.
But the Cossacks knew that the Bible says we shouldn’t think about revenge, so they knew they were also doomed. If the warrior chose to get even, he knew he could no longer go to heaven or find peace in this world or the next. So, Taras Bulba probably died in Gogol’s story.