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I know that ancient Egyptians shaved their heads, but they usually wore wigs. Was there any culture where head shaving was seen in a positive light and hair loss was looked upon in a positive light? I know that Roman men valued their hair, and hair loss was seen as a negative thing, for example.

I find it weird that shaved heads were never common in history since there are advantages to having a shaved head compared to a balding head in the 21st century.

The only instance I have found so far is ancient Mesopotamia.

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  • Both European and Asian monks used to shave their heads. – Björn Lindqvist Jan 5 at 15:17
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    Don't know about about baldness specifically, but many pictures of Japanese samuri show bald/partially shaved heads. Also a number of American Indian cultures shaved parts of their heads. E.g. the "Mohawk" hair. – jamesqf Jan 5 at 17:37
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The answer is mostly no. See History of Baldness by Albert M. Kligman, MD, PhD, and Beth Freeman, RPh.

Throughout the ages, a scalp adorned with luxurious hair has been assigned positive attributes of virility and power, whereas baldness has been associated with negative symbolisms.

They then give several examples of how different cultures have used baldness as a punishment or to make men unattractive. And there's more.

The appearance and disappearance of hair has always symbolized the coming of age and aging. Prosperous cultures bestowed a full head of hair with an aura of beauty, youth, virility, and well-being. Above all, the desire to remain permanently youthful explains the common dread of age-associated hair loss.

There may be more in this article but I can only see the first page. There's a whole book on baldness, Hair! : Mankind's Historic Quest to End Baldness, which from the pages one can see is saying the same things.

Another book, Baldness: A Social History more or less agrees and points out how common wigs and various cures have been through history. But it also says that there have been occasional backlashes which have led to people shaving their heads as a sign of rank or religion. I found one example for Qalandar Dervishes in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, shown in Siyah Qalem's paintings.

Response to comments-

I did some more searching on Kligman and I agree he doesn't seem very reputable, but other sources support what his article says, with a few exceptions.

The comment on Samurai is interesting and true, but it's not before the fifteenth century.

The comments on Turks looks like a good example of an exception. The source given by Johndoe says:

The Ottoman custom of shaving the head appears to have its origins in early Islamic lore.

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  • Wasn't baldness in fashion with the Ottomans before the 15th century? – C Monsour Jan 5 at 12:47
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    Quoting businessmen/women, regardless of education, involved in peddling products to treat baldness is a clear conflict of interest. Kligman is notorious for his poor ethics, and surely not a trustworthy source on anything he had a financial interest in. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 5 at 16:30
  • I see to recall a late medieval quote that in Europe men shave their beards and let their hair grow but that with the Turks it is the opposite – C Monsour Jan 5 at 19:06
  • @CMonsour I found the quote "The removal of hair from their bodies was not all that was required of the Ottoman male: Turkish men also shaved their heads. A seventeenth-century traveller, Jean Thevenot, noting this custom, wrote: ‘The Turks shave their heads and think it strange that the Francks suffer their Hair to grow; for they say that the Devil nestles in it’.59" In charlesstrongtrust.org.au/lectures/aykut.pdf – Johndoe Jan 5 at 19:48
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Probably yes - Japan.

The traditional samurai haircut looks just like male pattern baldness. I don't think it's an accident - they were trying to look older/more experienced.

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  • I don't know why this answer is getting down voted when its a valid source of what I asked. – Johndoe Jan 7 at 3:37
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    @Johndoe Maybe because it's not before 15th century like your question asked. That baldness cut wasn't until the 17th century according to Wikipedia. – JLK Jan 7 at 11:21

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