Author Topic: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)  (Read 5843 times)

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Offline William

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Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« on: May 05, 2013, 09:51:22 PM »
Why do monks style their hair into ponytails? Is it because they are not supposed to cut their hair so a monkeytail is easier to work with or is there some type of religious symbolism? Is it a sin to cut a monkeytail like it is with beards?
Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Offline Maria

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2013, 09:55:13 PM »
Why do monks style their hair into ponytails? Is it because they are not supposed to cut their hair so a monkeytail is easier to work with or is there some type of religious symbolism? Is it a sin to cut a monkeytail like it is with beards?

Is it a sin to cut a beard? If my husband does not trim his beard, it gets all tangled into dread locks.
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Offline JamesR

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2013, 09:55:45 PM »
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair. Either way, those monkey-tails are rather stylish and I've always wanted one, I tried growing my hair out about a year ago, but, I lacked the discipline to follow through. My hair began to look too ungroomed and sloppy, so, I cut it :( Any tips for growing a monkey tail?
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
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Offline William

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2013, 09:59:52 PM »
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair. Either way, those monkey-tails are rather stylish and I've always wanted one, I tried growing my hair out about a year ago, but, I lacked the discipline to follow through. My hair began to look too ungroomed and sloppy, so, I cut it :( Any tips for growing a monkey tail?

Yes, we need some explanations about this verse: "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" (1 Corinthians 11:14), especially considering how long hair is more or less a prerequisite for sainthood for Orthodox if icons are to be believed.

I plan on undertaking this spiritual journey of growing the monkeytail. I'll let you know. Not sure how I'll deal with the ungroomed hippie look, though.
Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Offline Punch

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2013, 10:28:31 PM »
Consider the times when Paul wrote, and to whom.  He was not writing to monks on Mt. Athos or Vaalam, but to Greeks who, along with Romans, had a history of homosexuality and effeminate looks.  If you read later canons regarding beards, they say "if a man shaves his face to please other men, he is an abomination to God".  The key there is not the shaving, but "to please other men".  I believe that this is along the same lines as to what Paul was telling the Corinthians.  Men are not to try to look like women, and women are not to try to look like men.  This is what I have always been taught.  However, I am always interested in learning something different - as long as it is true.  I am guessing that someone would have to be pretty blind to mistake any of the below monks for women.
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Offline Seraphim98

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2013, 11:08:02 PM »
It is my understanding that the long hair of monastics is rooted in the nazarite tradition…those like St. John the Forerunner who live an aescetical life set aside unto the service of God.  The nazarites did not cut their hair during the time of their vow. Some nazarites, like St. John lived their whole life vowed unto God.

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2013, 11:45:55 PM »
Why do monks style their hair into ponytails? Is it because they are not supposed to cut their hair so a monkeytail is easier to work with or is there some type of religious symbolism? Is it a sin to cut a monkeytail like it is with beards?

monkeytails...lol.
Its not a sin for monks to cut their beards or their hair. However, they strictly refrain from cutting their beards and other hairs.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2013, 02:40:16 AM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 02:40:32 AM by LBK »
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2013, 10:52:37 AM »
If you asked a monk why he styles his hair that way, he would probably laugh at you. Monks do not style their hair. Monks are not into worldly fashion.

Now we'll get stupid videos and pictures and dumb anecdotal rebuttals.
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 10:54:46 AM »
Any tips for growing a monkey tail?

Patience.
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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2013, 10:57:12 AM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.

Amen!  I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct "Gotcha Atheists" on this point.  Surprisingly, most are receptive to the correction and accept it's just a bad translation issue.
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 11:02:53 AM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

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Offline vamrat

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 11:38:52 AM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.



Lord have mercy, but that hair is a work of ART!
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Offline FatherGiryus

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2013, 12:50:56 PM »
Christ is risen!

You have to remember the historical context of early monasticism: where does a 'Roman' get his hair cut?  In the Baths... the Roman Baths.

Most people did not have the money to afford scissors or razors at home, and so the average person got 'cleaned up' at the local Bath, which cut hair, shaved, and even plucked out armpit hair (that was another great Roman fad).

They were not 'moral' places, since the baths also were connected to prostitution and sexual conduct.  Early Christians avoided the baths altogether.

Monks lived so far from the cities that they had no access to the Baths.  If they were 'cleaned up' (i.e. shaved and trimmed) it meant they had left the monastery.  That's usually bad news in that time.

The canonical injunction against 'destroying the beard' has to do with the homosexual practice of pulling out the beard with wax, since homosexual conduct as a 'receiver' was illegal once the beard had grown in and one became a 'man.'  Some men had their bodies waxed to dodge the social custom so they could continue in the activity.

By walking around with long hair and a shaggy beard, the monk was advertising his avoidance of the Baths and all that they stood for.
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2013, 09:02:40 PM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.

 This is really interesting.  I'm not doubting you, but what is your source(s)?  I've always wondered why our priests and monastics have long hair in light of this verse, but now, this makes perfect sense.  I wonder how many other of our understanding are off all because of misinterpretation?  How can we possibly know?  I've been Orthodox for almost 9 years and never heard this before.
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Offline Punch

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2013, 09:31:40 PM »
I sure hope that wigs do not count!
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Offline Schultz

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2013, 10:44:39 PM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.

 This is really interesting.  I'm not doubting you, but what is your source(s)?  I've always wondered why our priests and monastics have long hair in light of this verse, but now, this makes perfect sense.  I wonder how many other of our understanding are off all because of misinterpretation?  How can we possibly know?  I've been Orthodox for almost 9 years and never heard this before.

have you never wondered why Christ's hair in icons is ALWAYS long?
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2013, 10:54:48 PM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.

 This is really interesting.  I'm not doubting you, but what is your source(s)?  I've always wondered why our priests and monastics have long hair in light of this verse, but now, this makes perfect sense.  I wonder how many other of our understanding are off all because of misinterpretation?  How can we possibly know?  I've been Orthodox for almost 9 years and never heard this before.

have you never wondered why Christ's hair in icons is ALWAYS long?

 Obviously there are many instances (icons, monastics, priests) where the actual practice differs from the Apostle's admonishment.  I always just figured the inconsistency was with my understanding.  Some of the explanations have cleared it up for me (for which I am grateful) and I simply wanted the source(s) so I could either bookmark it or print it out to place in my bible.
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Offline Deacon Lance

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2013, 12:00:10 AM »

Quinisext Council, Canon 42.

As touching so-called hermits, who dressed in black and with a growth of hair on their head go about the cities and associate with laymen and women, and insult their own profession, we decree, if they choose to tonsure their hair and adopt the habit (or garb) of other Monks, that they be installed in a Monastery and be enrolled with their brethren there. But if they do not prefer to do so, they must be driven out of the cities altogether and be forced to dwell in deserts, from which they formed the name they have applied to themselves.
 

Interpretation.

Because of the fact that of old many deceivers of the people calling themselves hermits, wearing black and growing hair on their head, roamed round cities, mixing with men and women, and discrediting their monastic profession, the present Canon decrees that if such men are willing to cut off their hair, like the rest of monks who live in monasteries,[170] and to be settled down in a monastery, well and good; but if they are unwilling, let them be driven out of the cities entirely, and let them go and dwell in the deserts, from which they falsely, and not truly and truthfully, came to call themselves “hermits.” (Note of Translator. — This word hermit in English has somehow or other acquired an initial h which does not belong to it. It is derived from the Greek word for desert eremia, whence the Greek word in question is eremites, meaning “(a monk) inhabiting the desert or wilderness.”)
 
Notes
 
[170] Note from the present Canon that monks living in monasteries and coenobitic communities must cut their hair symmetrically; for it appears that monks affect a symmetrical haircut both from this Canon and from the discourse of Athanasius the Great concerning virginity, and also from the first sermon on Peace by St. Gregory the Theologian, and from many historical narratives of Lausaicus. Since the present time is (considered to be) a time of mourning among monks, according to divine Chrysostom (Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew No. 56) and John Climax. God, by the way, says through Isaiah that shaving the head is a sign of mourning and weeping and of beating the breast (Isa. 22:12). And if, as St. Paul says, any man in general is ugly when he has hair (and see the Footnote to c. XCVI of the present (C.), how much more ugly monks are who grow hair! But if all monks in general ought to cut their hair symmetrically, how much more ought young monks living in monasteries or cells, and deacons, to cut their hair! For such persons scandalize others with their beardless face as much as they do with their long combed hair. Against these incongruities those living in cities, and especially those living in the imperial capital city ought to be on their guard at all times.

http://jbburnett.com/resources/canons/56can/56can042.html
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Offline LBK

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 12:21:53 AM »
Quote
I find it rather bizarre since St. Paul said it's shameful for a man to have long hair.

No, St Paul did not say long. The Greek word he used does not mean long, it means coiffed, primped, styled.

Wish more folks were aware of this distinction - after all, Christ Himself as an adult had long hair, as attested to consistently and unwaveringly in iconography.

 This is really interesting.  I'm not doubting you, but what is your source(s)?  I've always wondered why our priests and monastics have long hair in light of this verse, but now, this makes perfect sense.  I wonder how many other of our understanding are off all because of misinterpretation?  How can we possibly know?  I've been Orthodox for almost 9 years and never heard this before.

Here is the verse from Corinthians in the original Greek:

14 ἢ οὐδὲ αὐτὴ ἡ φύσις διδάσκει ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἀνὴρ μὲν ἐὰν κομᾷ, ἀτιμία αὐτῷ ἐστι,

The bolded word koma is a cognate of a word which, even in modern Greek, means to cut and style hair. The words kommotis and kommotria are the masculine and feminine forms of hairdresser, i.e. one who styles and beautifies hair.

It ts therefore clear that plain, long hair is perfectly acceptable for men, according to St Paul, as, indeed it was for Christ.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 12:23:24 AM by LBK »
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Offline Gunnarr

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2013, 01:53:30 AM »
I do not really like the ponytails. I have always seem them as girlish but that is just the culture I grew up in

but if you want to know why they have ponytails, look at old pictures of those novices at mount athos who did not use them (oh and my, there were hundreds and hundreds of monks back then in even one monastery! quite depressing today)

Anyway, because I cannot remember where to view old athos pictures, I will tell you the hair goes pretty crazy if it is not put in a ponytail. I will just draw it in paint for fun!



the hair gets kind of messy, going in all directions!

at least that is why i think they wear ponytails, because those that did not in the pictures had hair like that... sort of...


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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2013, 03:57:40 AM »
Why do monks style their hair into ponytails? Is it because they are not supposed to cut their hair so a monkeytail is easier to work with or is there some type of religious symbolism? Is it a sin to cut a monkeytail like it is with beards?

Is it a sin to cut a beard? If my husband does not trim his beard, it gets all tangled into dread locks.


That's great! I wish I could get my beard to lock up like that!  :)


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Offline Alpo

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2013, 04:40:27 PM »
I will tell you the hair goes pretty crazy if it is not put in a ponytail.

No it doesn't if one doesn't have curly hair. Have you ever even had long hair yourself?
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Offline William

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2013, 09:17:01 PM »
I must apologize for this post

It's my favorite in the thread, actually.

I remember akimori makoto once said something about the monkeytails having to do with the Turkish occupation, I've never found more information on that though.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2013, 09:51:54 PM »
I must apologize for this post

It's my favorite in the thread, actually.

I remember akimori makoto once said something about the monkeytails having to do with the Turkish occupation, I've never found more information on that though.

A lot of things that get tossed to the Turkish occupation do not account for practices in lands not occupied by Turks, which are the same.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2013, 10:43:09 PM »
"if a man shaves his face to please other men, he is an abomination to God".  The key there is not the shaving, but "to please other men".

Like conforming the aesthetic standards of the men conducting an interview for a job? Much of what men do is to please other men, including growing their hair long to please their spiritual father, abbot, etc.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 10:44:02 PM by orthonorm »
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Offline Punch

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2013, 09:23:39 AM »
"if a man shaves his face to please other men, he is an abomination to God".  The key there is not the shaving, but "to please other men".

Like conforming the aesthetic standards of the men conducting an interview for a job? Much of what men do is to please other men, including growing their hair long to please their spiritual father, abbot, etc.

No.  I used to think that, but was told by a priest later that "to please other men" was a reference to those that shaved to look like young boys, and therefor still be able to be on the receiving end of Roman and Greek pleasures. 
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline Seraphim98

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2013, 11:35:23 PM »
Quote
Early Christians avoided the baths altogether.

I'm not sure this is altogether absolute.  According to Eusebius the Apostle John was at the baths at Ephesus when approached by the herisarch Cerintheus. The heretic asked John if he recognized him. "I do recognize you," the saint replied, "I recognize the offspring of Satan."

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2013, 11:44:35 PM »
Quote
Early Christians avoided the baths altogether.

I'm not sure this is altogether absolute.  According to Eusebius the Apostle John was at the baths at Ephesus when approached by the herisarch Cerintheus. The heretic asked John if he recognized him. "I do recognize you," the saint replied, "I recognize the offspring of Satan."

I was thinking just that.

However, that is one instance, and then there is an alleged general trend.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2013, 11:46:06 PM »
Monks I've seen put their hair under their hats.
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Offline William

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2013, 12:53:21 AM »
Quote
Early Christians avoided the baths altogether.

I'm not sure this is altogether absolute.  According to Eusebius the Apostle John was at the baths at Ephesus when approached by the herisarch Cerintheus. The heretic asked John if he recognized him. "I do recognize you," the saint replied, "I recognize the offspring of Satan."

Maybe he was there to preach.
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Offline William

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2013, 08:37:52 PM »
Are there official rules for monks about hair?
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Offline peacenprayer

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2013, 08:47:54 PM »
I'd say they tie it into a ponytail because they have things to do. Long hair gets in the way. Or everything. Forever. Unless you tie it back. It's entirely practical, me thinks.
Also, I recall reading that growing it is something to do with having the likeness of Christ, and also to dispel vanity.
Chanter, Blacksmith, Tailor, Captain of the Guard. ...I made the last one up.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Monastic ponytails (AKA monkeytails)
« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2013, 09:09:46 PM »
Are there official rules for monks about hair?

AFAIK, just tradition, the monastery typikon, and the will of the elder.
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