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Posts Tagged ‘Pognomancy

The Annals of Pognology*…

* Pognology:  the study of whiskers and associated lore

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Edwardian England was a milieu of many and often peculiar mania.  Palmistry, numerology, and phrenology are well-known aspects of of the era.  Less well known, was pogonomancy, or divination by beard reading, to understand character or to foretell the future.

As Will Schofield explains on his wonderful site A Journey Round My Skull, a leading example of the period,

…a 1912 pamphlet entitled Poets Ranked by Beard Weight, has become a rarity much prized by bibliophiles, and one that still stands out as a particular curiosity among the many colorful curiosities of the period. Its author, one Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881 – 1937), was a deipnosophist, clubman, and literary miscellanist with a special interest in matters tonsorial. His masterpiece, The Language of the Beard, an epicurean treat confected for the delectation of fellow bon vivants, vaunts the premise that the texture, contours, and growth patterns of a man’s beard indicate personality traits, aptitudes, and strengths and weaknesses of character. A spade beard, according to Underwood’s theories, may denote audacity and resolution, for example, while a forked, finely-downed beard signifies creativity and the gift of intuition, a bushy beard suggests generosity, and so on…

Read on (here) for more on this scratchy fringe at the lip of World War I– and for the rankings of Rossetti and one’s other favorite poets!

As we reach for the trimming scissors, we might spare a memorial thought for James Robert Wills, who died on his date in 1975.  In 1933, Bob Wills, as he became known, formed Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, incorporating jazz-swing influences into country and western– and as he attained fame, created the genre we now know as “western swing.”

Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. He had believed his chances of winning so slim that he was backstage chatting with friends when the award was announced. When he was finally tracked down and brought on stage, he said, “I don’t usually take my hat off to nobody. But I sure do to you folks.”

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (source: Tulsa Oratorio Chorus)

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