Do You Know? Why Do Monks Shave Their Heads? Religion Facts To Know!

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 25, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Nov 17, 2021
Old Monk are teaching little monks.

The practice of shaving heads for religious purposes is called tonsure.

The term 'tonsure' originates from the Latin word 'tonsure' which means 'clipping'. This practice was adopted by the Catholic Church but was dropped later.

The appearance of this practice is believed to be from Christianity. They couldn't shave their heads around the sides.

The Eastern Roman Empire claimed the authority of Saint Paul and the priests had to shave their whole heads. Tonsure can still be practiced in the Roman Catholic Church with the permission of the Pope.

It is still commonly used in a traditional Eastern Orthodox church for the ceremony of newly ordained Christian members. Other than that, other religions also practice this tradition and head-shaving has been seen as a step of ordination as well.

If you want to learn more fun facts, check out our articles about why do people blush and why do we vote here on Kidadl!

Why do Buddhist monks shave their heads?

Buddhist monks and nuns in India tend to shave their heads and also eyebrows as getting rid of their hair is a vow of their renunciation of worldly ego and ties related to their lives.

Buddhist monks and nuns follow the rules mentioned in the sacred text Vinaya Pitaka made by Buddha. In the sacred text Vinaya Pitaka, it is mentioned that there are particular monastic rules that need to be followed.

Priests must shave their heads with a razor and not use scissors.

Plucking or dyeing gray hair is also prohibited. A shaved head not only is the symbol of traditional Buddhism practices but also a shaved haircut makes it easier for Buddhist monks to focus on their journey to enlightenment and not waste time and money on grooming their hair to maintain societal expectations.

Why do monks shave their heads in the middle?

Catholic monks once had this hairstyle as they mimicked St.Paul's hairstyle. During the reign of George VII, corruption was widespread in the church and to control it the monarch decided to impose abstinence on all ordained priests, monks, and nuns.

To signify this change, monks were asked to mimic St.Paul's hair. St. Paul was said to be a bald man and monks were asked to follow his tonsure style.

But the problem was that the Bible forbids the cutting of hair at the edge of one's hair or beard.

To solve this dilemma, they were asked to shave the top of their heads and keep the edges of their hair in order to respect the Bible as well as the wish of George VII. The practice was then called tonsure and this was soon practiced by other religions as well.

Why do Tibetan monks shave their heads?

The main religion of Tibet has been Buddhism for decades and the monks their as well shave their heads. The rules for Buddhist monks there are similar as well.

Buddhist monks in Tibet also can not use scissors to cut their hair and can't maintain any haircut as instructed by Buddha.

The only way to live a true monastic life is to have shaved heads and not waste time on maintaining any other style. Shaving is necessary as it is the sign of denouncing self and walking towards the path of enlightenment.

Why do Japanese monks shave their heads and faces?

Tonsure started off as a practice of shaving hair to show support of sympathy, but Buddhist monks practice it as a symbol of renouncing the world of fashion, worldly expectations, and vanity.

The indifference towards the type of haircut and hairstyle that one wants helps a monk to focus better on their path of enlightenment. Buddhist monks even in Japan tend to have shaved heads.

As mentioned by Buddha in the sacred texts, shaving helps monks to achieve a monastic way of life. A shaved head is also appreciated by Zen Buddhism, which is the meditative school of Japan. Tonsure on the head and face can help a monk achieve monastics.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Do you know? Why do monks shave their heads?

Religion facts to know! then why not take a look at Have you ever wondered: why do football players wear eye black?, or When do kittens start pooping? Know your furry pet friend better?

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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