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Extinct profession in ancient Rome – hair puller

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman sculpture showing a man with a beard
Roman sculpture showing a man with a beard

It may come as a surprise, but the profession of a hair puller really existed and was very often performed in Rome. The extractor performed its work both under the armpits and in intimate places for women and men

Romans often exposed their naked bodies to public view, e.g. in public baths. For this, they had to make sure that they were well-groomed and did not stink. Bathhouses usually employed several hair-pullers for this purpose. The service was aimed at the middle class and the elite of the ancient Romans. The poorest inhabitants could not afford frequent bathing, let alone such a luxury. In addition, the procedure was very often painful.

The extractor’s job was to pull out customers’ underarm hair to try and minimize the odour. An additional service was the plucking of hair in intimate places to make the body look more symmetrical. Women served women and men served men. Tweezers were usually used. The tweezers were made of red-hot bronze and had the shape of sickles. The site itself could be associated with torture devices.

Author: Adrian Jesionowski (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • Campbell Brian, The Romans and Their World: A short introduction
  • Garrett Ryan, Nagie posągi brzuchaci gladiatorzy i słonie bojowe

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