A moustache is one of those decorative pieces of facial hair that can be found underneath many a man’s nose. Some moustaches are pencil thin while others are big and bushy. Some completely cover the upper lip and yet some hover like lazy hirsute humming birds above the upper lip. It’s amazing the variety of shapes, sizes and styles the moustache comes in. The moustache has always been used and seen as a representation of a man’s virility. And at the same time it has been used to characterize the personality of the man wearing it. The moustache has been a part of manhood since the beginning of time.
The earliest known record of a moustache dates back to 300BC. It was documented by a portrait of a Scythian man who wore a moustache while riding a horse (Pazyryk Horeseman). This ancient depiction hangs in the State Hermitage Mueseum in St Petersburg today. Documentation of the moustache does not end there. Another artifact was uncovered, the Sutton Hoo Ship- Burial Helmet. This helmet has a decorative mask attached to it and underneath the nose on the face plate is unmistakeably a Chaplin-esque moustache!The finding of this helmet led modern day historians to gather two keen insights into the culture from which produced it. First, the helmet showed that the moustache was seen as a representation of a strength and courage, a gent not to be trifled with. And secondly, the helmet also showed that the moustache was more than likely a symbol of a great warrior. The masculinity and the strength the moustache conveyed continued into the 20th century. In the 1900′s men not only considered the moustache an expression of masculinity but also a symbol of style and sophistication. In this period of time there were three notable moustache fashions: The Walrus, The Imperial, and The Handlebar. The Walrus Style is illustrated when the moustache is grown to droop down and cover the mouth much like a real Walrus’s whiskers do. It is a very full and lush moustache. Some of you may be old enough to remember it featured in a Tom and Jerry episode. Jerry’s uncle was visiting and he wore a Walrus style moustache. Every time he spoke (mumbled), the moustache would rustle outwards. It really was a very funny and memorable episode…at least to me! This particular moustache seems to have faded out of pop culture. It might have been just the changing of the style but it also might have been because the Walrus style interfered with eating.
The next notable moustache style from this time period is The Imperial. The Imperial style required a lot of up-keep. In order for men to wear this style, they also had to grow a full moustache. However, this style didn’t have the moustache hanging over the lip into the mouth like the Walrus . To obtain this style, men had to brush and shave their moustache in a way so that it was not touching the cheeks. This style was seen as very elegant, more of a style for royals and the upper crust. But, despite the appeal, it’s popularity faded and gave way to ever popular Handlebar.
The Handlebar style is a full stache as well. It hangs just a little over the upper lip and the ends of each side of the moustache are curled up towards the cheeks. The wound up ends resemble handlebars hence the name. Some mistakenly confuse this style with others but if it doesn’t curl up at the ends and resemble a set of bike bars, it’s not a Handlebar style moustache. After the rise in popularity of The Handlebar there were other styles that came and went. Eventually television, motion pictures, and magazines all began influencing the make and model of moustaches that men would wear. While I think it’s safe to say there will never be a single dominant style of moustache at one period in time again, one thing is certain, no matter the style or the time period, there will always be a man somewhere in the vicinity sporting a moustache. By Curtis Jonathon Daily