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A guide to hirsute Hindustan

For centuries the Indian sub-continent has been the last redoubt of the hirsute; a reliquary for the beards and moustaches of epochs past. Not so long ago every Indian office, factory or farm had its collection of Soup Strainers, French Forks, Recumbent Bananas, Mad Monks, Grenadiers, Cavaliers and Old Dutch.

Today, the sons of men who twenty years ago waxed their Mutton Chops each morning for reasons of religion or caste or pride (or just to fit in), now imitate the clean-shaven idols of Bollywood.

As India begins to resemble the developed world, so the fashions of the modern Indian male become interchangeable with his counterparts in London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney. The result? An entire panoply of interesting moustache flora and exotic beard fauna are now endangered. Sadly, species loss cannot be ruled out.

* Photographer Chris Stowers and writer Richard McCallum have long been fascinated by the weird and wonderful facial hair to be found in India. Their graduation as professional pogonologists was marked by the publication of the book 'Hair India' in May 2008. To see Stowers' moustache and McCallum's beard, click through to the last page of the story.

A full text by Richard McCallum is available, and further musings on the prodigious hirsuteness of the Indian male can be found at the Hair India blog
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