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According to the reminiscences of José Maria Amador, as translated by Gregorio Mora-Torres in "Californio Voices", around 1820 recruits at the Monterey Presidio received an unusual haircut:

After being enlisted, the recruits were given a toupee [tupé] and a valcarra. The toupee was when the entire front half of the head was shaved, leaving only the valcarra on the sides. The valcarra would drop on the sides of the face and would serve as sideburns [patilla]. The hair behind the head [coleta] was braided into a pigtail [entrenzado]. This haircut was so ridiculous that no one would voluntarily accept it. Those who suffered this shearing were forced to have it. This ridiculous invention was the work of Governor Solá and Captain de la Guerra.

Can any Spanish tradition, such as a priestly tonsure, explain the valcarra haircut? Does any other source corroborate this story? Was the valcarra ever illustrated?

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    How is this any more ridiculous than the shaved-head style that was, and I think still is, forced on US military recruits? It seems like a common facet of military indoctrination to use various tactics like hair styles to differentiate recruits (and often soldiers in general) from the general population. – jamesqf May 17 '17 at 6:01
  • @jamesqf the shaved head style has practical considerations, namely hygiene and comfort while wearing a helmet. – jwenting May 17 '17 at 6:33
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    @jamesqf You compare it to an entirely shaved head, which while it may be cruel, is not particularly silly. This is half shaved, half long. – Aaron Brick May 17 '17 at 14:06
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    @jwenting - That part was a quote. If you want to argue with the author about whether or not it was in fact ridiculous, you'll have to get a Oija board out and contact Mr. Amador. – T.E.D. May 17 '17 at 14:36
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    @jwenting: Can't speak to the hygiene part, but the comfort while wearing a helmet is absolutely not true. Longish hair provides useful padding. – jamesqf May 17 '17 at 17:13
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I so far haven't been able to dig up anything about the Valcarra either. However, the description of the rest sounds a lot like a Chinese Queue. There may have been some Chinese immigration to that area in that exact period, or it could have been influenced by similar Native American hairstyles. According to the wiki, this same hairstyle was also being used in the British Navy in the early 1800's.

enter image description here

Again, I haven't found anything about Valcarra. However the description does remind me of one (fictional) odd style I've seen in an MMO. I'll put it here not as an authoritative example, but to give an idea of what this might look like.

enter image description here

  • FWIW, both of the officers named were born in Spain. – Aaron Brick May 18 '17 at 17:32

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