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Tar on the Pig Tail

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I have heard of "Tar on the Pig tails" and wonder if it was done and why.

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It was done, though no as early as the GAoP I don't think - at least, it wasn't a common practice that early if it was done at all.

As I understand it, it was a protection for the hair.

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Not "tar on the Pig tails".... but I think it was in "The Wooden World" (something like that....) there was a reference to the sailors plaiting (OK...braiding) each other hair...... something about the longer the tail, the longer you had been at Sea......

Does anyone have better references to period hair styles ?

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No tar on me tail, but some say we North Carolinians have tar on our heels, but alas, that's another legend.

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CaptainCiaran... that was from the pine tar...... rendered tree sap..... not the stuff used on raods........

http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-kaye-tar.htm

gives more info.....

Still don't think I wanna put rendered/refined tree sap on my hair tho....... :lol:

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It was done, though no as early as the GAoP I don't think - at least, it wasn't a common practice that early if it was done at all.

As I understand it, it was a protection for the hair.

Okay this is hearsay but from a usually reliable source who agrees it was done for protection and to keep the hair out of one's face, when they were done they cut the entire thing off and grew it new... or left it off which eventually lead to the shorter hair styles during the early 1800s.

Do not quote me on this but it might help you to track more information down regarding tarred hair....

Hector

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Well, I've used a pine tar hair treatment and I can tell you first hand the #1 reason they tarred their hair - it smells GREAT!!! The stuff I have is to nourish damaged hair, but I doubt that's why sailors used it. In reading through some information, I came across an unreliable source that suggested it was to discourage lice. Though the source is questionable, it actually does make sense that it was used to ward off lice, since lice can't cling to greasy hair (they prefer dry, clean hair), and the tar would, I think, tend to smother them. Can anyone else find a reliable reference to sailors using pine tar to control lice?

das

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since lice can't cling to greasy hair

Cool ... I ain't never washing me hair again... gotta protect meself genst lice........ :ph34r:

Sorry after a "bad" night and a few tankards O' rum...... heck what do you expect.........

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since lice can't cling to greasy hair

Cool ... I ain't never washing me hair again... gotta protect meself genst lice........ :ph34r: Sorry after a "bad" night and a few tankards O' rum...... heck what do you expect.........

I expect you to save a LOT of money on your hair care products!

In the past people just didn't wash their hair so obsessively as they do now, and greasy or oily hair was often preferred to the squeaky clean stuff. But the reasons for not washing vary greatly - from fear of disease to just plain ol' poor hygiene. As far as using tar in the hair - heck, 'pomades' have been used for centuries, and up through the 70's they were still popular amongst menfolk until gels and mousses became popular. Perhaps pine tar was just the sailor's equivalent to Dapper Dan Pomade...I can just hear it now..."Well, I don't want 'Fop', goddamn it! I'm a Dapper Dan pine tar man!"

okay - it was a "bad" night for me, too...so what do you expect...

:ph34r:

das

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Rumba...

I've used Grandpa's Pine Tar shampoo and soap ( http://www.grandpabrands.com/main1024.html ), and Bronner Brother's Pine Tar Super Gro Conditioner ( http://www.bronnerbros.com/Products/pine_tar.html ) - that's a leave-in conditioner that I would use before washing my hair. It's really an African-American haircare product, and you're supposed to leave it in for days before washing your hair, but I would only leave it in overnight because it makes Caucasian hair look greasy...like an ol' sailor, or something... It smells wonderful, though - like smoked sausages!

das

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So are we talking about here, the sap or pitch that comes out of pine trees when they are damaged? The same stuff it is impossible to wash off your hands? The same stuff where I used to have to cut out bits of my hair after a morning of climbing trees, as there was no other way short of MEK to get it out?

People put that in their hair intentionally?

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Somewhat right, Duchess. I am absolutely no expert, but did grow up here in North Carolina, where the manufacturing of tar for naval vessels has its roots in America. It is my understanding that the pine sap/resin from the trees was boiled down and made into tar. Not sure if other ingredients were added. The final product was certainly waterproof.

I have seen pine tar soaps/shampoos in health food and 'country' stores, too. I believe it's advertised as a remedy for dandruff.

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The link Patrick Hand gave explains it all - http://www.maritime.org/conf/conf-kaye-tar.htm

A quick explanation from Wikipedia: "While pine tar is most widely known as the sticky substance baseball players use on their bats to improve grip, it has many, lesser-known uses. It has been used by mariners, in soaps, in roofing projects, and in the treatment of skin diseases since its discovery in the middle 1600s.

Pine tar is produced by a process called destructive distillation of the wood from a pine. The wood is rapidly decomposed by applying heat and pressure in a closed container; among the byproducts is pine tar."

das

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Which still begs the question:

Why would people proud of their hair coat it in substance intended to dry "hard and shiny" and permenant?

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I have images of Schemp from the Three Stooges in my head now!

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It smells wonderful, though - like smoked sausages!

Now there's a scent ye don't smell everytime ye nuzzle up close to someone. LOL

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Pine tar's also great for athlete's foot. Never had a problem when working a tall ship.

Here's my speculation:

Pine tar was available. It was commonly used in the rigging of vessels for preservation of standing rigging, as well as in the seams for waterproofing. Sailors would get covered in pine tar anyway, so either they actively put pine tar in their hair to keep the ques out of the way (if anyone's been sailing with long hair, they and those around them know the horrors that can ensue), or they just got pine tar in their hair from working. The long hair was just the style of the day. Any 'hair care' benefits, were probably not known back then, nor were they cared about much by the common Jack Tar.

Coastie B)

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What time frame are we talking about?

I know that the Elizabethians would use bear grease in the hair like we use hair spray today.

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Aye...the world be needin' more long haired pirates.....

there be not enough t' be goin' a round.....

(slow heavy sigh....curls up in hammock an' goes back to sleep...)

B)

~Foxmorton

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