How to Remove Unwanted Hair like a Heian Lady

Get yourself some tweezers and a small pair of scissors. Recently, a make-up kit was found in a Heian tomb in Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture.  Inside the kit was a pair of tweezers and some shears, in addition to a small mirror from China.

Since the tomb was outside of Kansai Prefecture, and thus far from Heian Kyo, it appears that the lady may “have had a close relationship with an influential person who ruled the local area on behalf of a lord who lived in Kyoto, the capital at that time,” according to Shiro Yamashita, the Head of Public Relations for the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Archaeology in Harimacho. It’s interesting that Yamashita didn’t mention the possibility of the lady’s being the wife or daughter of a provincial governor, that much-dreaded post occupied by the father of Murasaki Shikibu and later husband of Sei Shonagon.

Why tweezers were needed.

However, one thing is certain. Whoever owned this historic make-up kit needed it for a very specific purpose: removing all of one’s noticeable body hair, eyebrows included. How else could one paint on thick, black, caterpillar-like replacements without looking silly?



Filed under beauty, eyebrows, Ladies, Murasaki Shikibu, Shonagon

4 responses to “How to Remove Unwanted Hair like a Heian Lady

  1. That sounds painful. Anything for beauty I guess.

  2. jcg03002

    It does, but strangely, I read the other day that the Vikings used all the same tools, and additionally had an “ear spoon” for cleaning their ears, akin to modern day q-tips.

    Supposedly that grooming worked, because the English were bitter that those hygiene-obsessed (really) Viking men seduced their women.

  3. Hahaha, I have Viking blood in me but I didn’t realize my ancestors were so hygienic. I thought they were just like to pillage.

  4. jcg03002

    As do I. They were extremely hygienic. The average Viking took a bath once a week. Keep in mind that Queen Elizabeth I took a bath once a year….”whether she needed it or not.” Most of the British they would have attacked and pillaged would have never taken a bath before in their lives.

    Despite the ransacking of monasteries, Viking social culture was really impressive and developed, especially compared to the rest of Europe at the time. For example, women could divorce their husbands for many reasons, including wearing overly effeminate clothing, or plain old incompatibility.

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