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Baldness Stories and Folklore

The Man and His Two Wives

hair loss tales A middle-aged man had two wives, one who was old and one who was young. Each one desired to see him like herself.

Now the man's hair was turning gray, which the young wife did not like, as it made him look too old for her husband. 

So every night she used to comb his hair and pull out the white ones. But the elder wife saw her husband growing gray with great pleasure, for she did not like to be mistaken for his mother.

So every morning she used to arrange his hair and pull out as many of the black ones as she could.In consequence the man soon found himself entirely bald. 

Moral: Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield. 

Source: Joseph Jacobs, The Fables of Aesop (London, 1894), no. 63.

The Bald Man and the Fly

hair loss tales

There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot summer's day. 

A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging him from time to time. 

The Man aimed a blow at his little enemy, but his palm came on his head instead; again the Fly tormented him, but this time the Man was wiser and said:

"You will only injure yourself if you take notice of despicable enemies."

The Bald Man And The Fly - 2

A Fly bit the bare head of a Bald Man who, endeavoring to destroy it, gave himself a heavy slap. 

Escaping, the Fly said mockingly, "You who have wished to revenge, even with death, the Prick of a tiny insect, see what you have done to yourself to add insult to injury?' 

The Bald Man replied, "I can easily make peace with myself, because I know there was no intention to hurt. 

But you, an ill-favored and contemptible insect who delights in sucking human blood, I wish that I could have killed you even if I had incurred a heavier penalty."

The Middle-Aged Man and the Two Widows

Jean de La Fontaine
A man of middle age, 
Fast getting gray, 
Thought it would be but sage 
To fix the marriage day. 
He had in stocks, 
And under locks, 
Money enough to clear his way.

Such folks can pick and choose; all tried to please 
The moneyed man; but he, quite at his ease, 
Showed no great hurry, 
Fuss, nor scurry. 
"Courting," he said, "was no child's play." 

Two widows in his heart had shares -- 
One young; the other, rather past her prime, 
By careful art repairs 
What has been carried off by Time. 

The merry widows did their best 
To flirt and coax, and laugh and jest; 
Arranged, with much of bantering glee, 
His hair, and curled it playfully. 

The eldest, with a wily theft, 
Plucked one by one the dark hairs left. 
The younger, also plundering in her sport, 
Snipped out the gray hair, every bit. 
Both worked so hard at either sort, 
They left him bald -- that was the end of it. 

"A thousand thanks, fair ladies," said the man; 
"You've plucked me smooth enough; 
Yet more of gain than loss, so quantum suff., 
For marriage now is not at all my plan. 

She whom I would have taken t'other day 
To enroll in Hymen's ranks, 
Had but the wish to make me go her way, 
And not my own; 
A head that's bald must live alone; 
For this good lesson, ladies, many thanks. 

Source: Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695), Fables, book 1, fable 17. Translated by Walter Thornbury. 

The Bald Old Man

Long, long ago an old man had a young mistress, though he kept the affair secret. 

He let her pull out all his white hair, so that he might not look so old. 

His wife noticed that he had less white hair, and guessed that he must be keeping a mistress. So she abused him roundly for deceiving her. 

Her husband feigned ignorance and protested, "Certainly not! I would never do a thing like that.
" Then to prove his innocence he let his wife pull out his black hair. 

In her jealousy she pulled it all out, so that he might no longer be attractive to his mistress. And so the old man became completely bald. 

Source: Zong In-Sob, Folk Tales from Korea (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1952), no. 88, p. 191. 

The Mix-up

A student, a barber, and a bald man were travelling together. 

One night in an Inn they felt ill at ease, so they decided to take turns keeping watch. 

They drew lots, and the barber got the first turn. While he was keeping watch he took out his razor and shaved the student's head completely bald. 

When the student's time came to keep watch, the barber awakened him. 

Still half asleep, the student scratched his head, and finding no hair, he said, "That stupid fool of a barber made a mistake and woke up the bald man instead of me." 

Source: Leander Petzoldt, Deutsche Schwänke (Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 1979), no. 144, p. 177. 

How Saint Peter Lost His Hair

Everyone knows that Saint Peter is entirely bald, except for a single lock of hair in front that falls over his forehead, but most people do not know the following story that explains how this came to be. 

While he and Christ were traveling together they came to a farmhouse where the farmwife was just cooking up some large yeast pancakes in grease. 

According to others it was noodles. 

Saint Peter entered the house to beg for some pancakes, while the Lord waited outside. 

The farmwife was a good-hearted woman, and she gave Peter three pancakes, fresh from the pan. 

But Peter was selfish, and in order to gain an advantage when the pancakes were divided up, he quickly hid one of them in his cap, then put it on his head. 

He pretended that he had received only two pancakes, one of which he gave to the Lord. 

The pancake under his cap was still hot, and it began to burn Peter terribly on the head, but he could not do anything about it; he just had to bear the pain. 

Later, when he took off his cap, he discovered that the hot pancake had burned into his head a large bald spot, which remained with him as long as he lived. 

Only the lock of hair that had protruded from the front of his cap was spared. 

Thus Saint Peter's bald head has one lock of hair in front. 

Source: Karl Reiser, Sagen, Gebräuche und Sprichwörter des Allgäus (Kempten, 1895), v. 1, p. 356. 

Why the Vulture is Bald

The Middle-Aged Man and the Two WidowsThe vulture was originally a humble old bird, and rather stupid. 

His plumage was not exceptionally beautiful, but quite passable. 

One day, however, he noticed that his feathers were falling off. He consulted other birds, who told him that he was merely moulting, and new feathers would grow later. 

But the vulture was pessimistic, and soon became thin and sickly with worry about his plumage. 

At last the other birds took pity on him, and each gave him a feather to stick on his body. 

When all the birds had given his their feathers, the vulture looked a wonderful bird with a plumage of all colours. 

The vulture now became conceited. 

He strutted about in his borrowed feathers, and declared that he was the most beautiful of all the birds. 

He became more and more proud until he asked the birds to recognize him as their king. 

At this insolence, the birds pecked off, not only the feathers that they had given the vulture, but also the vulture's own feathers. 

So when the birds had finished with him, the vulture looked old and ugly and bald. 

That is why even at the present day the vulture is a sour and ugly old bird. 

Source: Maung Htin Aung, Burmese Folk-Tales (Calcutta: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, 1948), pp. 53-54. 

The Bald-Headed Man

One time, when the world was young and men and women were ill because an evil spirit possessed them, there lived a man and his wife who were very poor. 

A devil came and took possession of each of them and made them both sick. 

As they were not rich they couldn't invite a holy lama to read prayers for them, so invited a lay-brother in his stead.

After a while this man who was reading began to get very hungry. 

It was the custom to give the priests the best of food, but this man and his wife had no butter nor meat nor fine things to eat. 

They had no horses, nor yak and only one goat. 

So the reader began to think to himself that if they would kill this goat he'd have plenty to eat, as it was really pretty fat.

The man who owned the house was bald headed and now he came up and sat on the roof near where the man was reading. He really sat down in front of him and heard the man mumbling his prayers, 

"Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum," he was reading, and read right on in the same tone, "The god says if a man is bald headed and will take the skin of a goat and put it on his head he will have hair."

The old man sat and heard him read this over several times and finally decided it was there in the book of prayers; so he killed the goat.

They all had some good eating for a while, and the old man put the skin on his head, wore it and wore it for days and days and kept feeling his head, but not a single hair would come. 

He finally concluded that the man had lied to him out of the book, and besides, he thought, "If I wear this too long, I fear all the skin will be worn off my head and there will be nothing but bone." 

So he asked the man about it, whether he hadn't lied to him, and he said, "O, no, but if a man would have what the gods say come true, he must pray a great deal himself." 

Thus he got around his lies and had goat to eat as well.

Source: Tibetan Folk Tales, translated by A. L. Shelton, M.D., edited by Flora Beal Shelton (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1925), no. 27, pp. 112-113. 

Baldness Stories and Baldness Folklore