In Reply to: Crowning glory posted by Smokey Stover on September 25, 2009 at 06:25:
: : : : What is the origin of the expression - "Your hair is your crowning glory"? Trying to write a college essay about my curly blond hair, going to high school in a sea of straight haired brunettes. Trying to make a connection about my hair and my individual attributes. Would like to tie in the phrase my grandmother often says.
: : : I looked in several phrase references and quote books and all I could find was "crown of glory" from the Bible. Did find: "Until the fashions changed in the present century, long, flowing hair was esteemed as a great beauty in women, especially if it was curly or wavy." "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions" by E. and M.A. Radford, edited and revised by Christina Hole, Barnes and Noble Books, 1996. First published in 1948.Page 176.
: : The Latin root of glory means praise or honor. Glory is also used to refer to the presense of God in something as represented by halos and auras in religious paintings and icons, also known as the shekinah or sometimes even shekinah glory. Here's a link to Wikipedia:
: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shekinah
: : Note in the picture, the presense of God in David is represented by not a halo, but a crown floating over his head.
: While crowning glory is a nice phrase for one's hair, a college paper could deal with some far more interesting questions.
: 1. Why is one's hair his or her "crowning glory"? How do humans compare with other animals in their hairiness, and in their attitude towards hair?
: 2. If the whole human race came out of Africa, why do you have golden hair and blue eyes? How does our genome accommodate such variety in hair, eye color and skin color? You could read up on the genes for eye color, for instance.
: 3. How unusual is it for towheads and other children with light-colored hair to retain their blondness all the way to their college years (or to adulthood)? And why?
: 4. The preferred color, length, and curliness of hair has been a flexible element of human culture since our knowledge of it began. Give some examples. Why did genteel ladies of Renaissance Europe often have their hairline at the forehead shaved back?
: These questions may seem to be of little relevance to "crowning glory," but there's a deep connection. And there are many more sub-topics you could pursue in connection with your curly golden tresses.
I should have mentioned a recent book with an interesting discussion of hair, human and otherwise. It's near the beginning of "The Well-dressed Ape; a Natural HIstory of Myself," by Hannah Holmes (NY, 2009). For a discussion of the genetic determinants of hair color you have to look elsewhere; an Internet search engine is your friend.