- In Ancient Times Cosmetics, for the care and adornment of the body, were widely used by both men and women in the ancient Near East. The use of cosmetics was widespread among the poor as well as the wealthy classes; in the same way that they used to wash the body, so they used to take care of it with substances that softened the skin and they would anoint (from the root swkh) the body with oils and ointments (eg., Ezek. 16:9), as is shown by the discovery of a great deal of pertinent archaeological material, dating from the third millennium B.C.E. Since the expensive cosmetic materials were used in small quantities, special containers were produced for them, and many bottles and small flasks made of porphyry, stone, bone, ivory, and glass have been found. Commonly discovered also are flat slate slabs with depressions in the center, which were used for grinding and mixing ingredients; small mortars, usually made of stone; and long thin metal, wood, bone, or ivory spatulas used for mixing or applying the cosmetics. Good examples of these implements, often lovely and in many diverse styles, were found in Gezer, Tel Beit Mirsim, Megiddo, and Hazor. In the ancient Near East the use of cosmetics by men was mainly restricted to the rubbing of oil into the body and the spreading of the oil over the hair of the head and the beard (Ps. 133:2), but occasionally a facial cream or lotion was used to protect the skin against the heat of the sun. Women used preparations to beautify the hair, to color eyelids, face, and lips, to anoint exposed skin and the whole body (Esth. 2:12), and to care for the nails. Cosmetics were also used medically and were sometimes connected with cultic worship and witchcraft. They were made by expert craftsmen who imported the raw ingredients, especially from Arabia and India, and adapted them for local use. The very common creams for treating the skin, particularly important in the hot climate of the east, were compounded of oils and fragrances. Sometimes the oil in these creams was extracted from olives, almonds, gourds, sesame, or other trees and plants, but animal and fish fats, which were less expensive, were more widely used. There may even have been a certain amount of wine or alcohol added to these fats to thin them and make them evaporate. Other thick base materials for cosmetics were wood ash, beeswax, and mixed oils and fats. The fragrant ingredients were usually of vegetable origin: plant leaves, fruits, buds, stalks, roots, seeds, and flowers, especially cinnamon, jasmine, rose, mint, and balsam. The fragrant components were produced by squeezing the raw materials, by cooking and afterward compressing them, or by distillation. Several early Egyptian drawings show the ingredients being placed in strong cloth sacks which could be compressed by shrinking or twisting. Women commonly put color around their eyes (Isa. 3:16; Jer. 4:30). In addition to beautification, this seems to have had some medicinal value, for covering the sensitive skin of the lids with color prevented dryness and consequent skin diseases. For the description of eye-painting the following terms are used: kaḥal (Akk. guḥlu), e.g., "painted your eyes and decked yourself with ornament" (Ezek. 23:40); pukh (II Kings 9:30, Jer. 4:30). Egyptian women colored the upper lid black, the lower one green, and painted the space between the upper lid and the eyebrow grey or blue. Mesopotamian women favored yellows and reds. These colors were usually mineral-based: black often being made from lead sulfate, greens and blues from colored stones (I Chron. 29:2) or from antimony stone (Heb. pukh), a precious blue stone which was ground and was used along with a mixture of oil base for the application of paint on the eyes, greens from copper oxide and reds from iron oxide. Such materials were generally powdered and mixed into a preservative oil base, possibly in combination with some fragrance. They were applied either with the fingers or with a stylized spatula. Red ocher or henna may have been used on the face, and henna was also used for dyeing the hair, which was held in place with beeswax. Lips were colored with a cream made from oil combined with red ocher, and nails were painted with pigments mixed in ash or bees-wax. Cosmetic colors were also produced from burned woods, ivories, and bitumen, mixed with strong fragrant compounds to eliminate their unpleasant odors. (Ze'ev Yeivin) A wealth of archaeological material has been found bearing testimony to the importance of beauty treatment in Roman and Byzantine Palestine. In every archaeological museum numerous tools and receptacles used to contain and apply makeup are to be found, such as metal and bone eyebrow pencils, containers for powders and creams in the form of small cylindrical pyxes, spoons and spatulae for applying make-up, small perfume bottles, mirrors (sometimes in pairs that fitted into one another, enabling one to see the back of one's head), tweezers, pins, brooches (fibulae), etc. Daniel Sperber (2nd ed.) -In the Talmud The talmudic attitude toward the use of cosmetics is basically favorable, but it is combined with warnings against its utilization for immoral purposes. This applies to ointments, perfumes, paint, and powder. Olive oil was widely used as an ointment (Anfang des Artikels base. It was also used as a depilatory, when mixed with such substances as myrrh, flour, and chalk. The best-known ointment was the precious balsam which was a highly praised product of the Jericho plain (Shab. 26a). Wanton women used to put it into their shoes together with myrrh, so that its scent would arouse passion in young men (Shab. 62b). This rare and costly commodity was subject to cheap imitations. There is a difference of opinion whether the biblical ẓori is to be identified with balsam (Ker. 6a) or whether it is a different substance (see rashi and Naḥmanides to Ex. 30:34). However, its main use was medicinal rather than cosmetic. Besides these ointments, rose oil, spikenard, foliatium, laudanum , henna, most of which are already mentioned in the Bible, and others, were also utilized. Perfumes (besamim) were obtained in part by an admixture of dry aromatic substances to those already mentioned. The substances were both grown in Israel and imported from as far as Arabia and even India (See incense and perfume ). These perfumes were also utilized to sweeten the air in the home after meals (Ber. 6:6; Shab. 18a); or at weddings (Tosef. Shab. 7:16); and to perfume clothing (Ber. 53a). In the Talmud mention is made of such dyes as rouge (sarak), purple-violet (pikas, φύκες; cf. the term pirkus), white for the face, hair and finger- and toenails, and blue-black (Kaḥal) for the eyes. It was a wife's duty to beautify herself so as to appear pleasing to her husband (Tosef. Ned. 7:1, cf. MK 1:7 ibid., 9b; Shab. 64b), and an enactment is attributed to Ezra that perfume peddlers should be allowed to circulate freely for this purpose (BK 82ab). The use of cosmetics during mourning (MK 20b; Ket. 4b) was forbidden. Prostitutes, of course, made a special art of painting themselves (Shab. 34a; TJ ibid. 8:3, 11b). For a scholar it was considered unbecoming to appear perfumed in public (Ber. 43b). An interpretation of Deut. 22:5 forbade men depilatories (Shab. 94b; Naz. 59a), which was understandable in a pagan world rife with pederasty. Against halitosis (which was a reason for divorce, Ket. 75a), women chewed peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, and gum (Shab. 65a). Talmudic literature contains a wealth of information on the manufacture and the marketing of cosmetic preparations. The avtinas family, who made the sacred incense for the Temple, took special care in its production and refused to share this art since it feared that unworthy persons would utilize its secrets for profane purposes (Yoma 38a). The Talmud also related that the women of Bet Avtinas never perfumed themselves lest people suspect that they were using sacred incense. The substances first had to be boiled in oil or seethed in water. After a time was allowed for absorption, they were poured into sealed containers, small tubes or boxes, with those for the more valuable substances made of alabaster (cf. Gen. R. 39:2). The perfume dealers had their shops in the market – Street of the Perfumers – where to this day there exists in the Old City of Jerusalem an ancient street still called by this name (Shuk ha-Besamim). Often such shops could be found in the "Market (street) of the Prostitutes," where the demand for perfumes was great (Ex. R. 43:7). The moral reputation of this trade was therefore not high, though it was considered indispensable and preferable to that of the tanner, who had to work with evil odors (Kid. 82a). The Mishnah decreed that a husband must give his wife ten dinars for her cosmetic needs. Rabban Gamaliel, however, said that the amount depended upon local customs (Ket. 66b). The Talmud states that Miriam, the daughter of Nakdimon b. Gorion, who lived at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, used cosmetics to such an extravagant extent that the sages permitted her an allowance of 400 golden coins for her "perfume basket" (Kuppah shel besamim). The hair, both of men and women, was the subject of special care. In addition to its cosmetic aspect, there was also the hygienic consideration of keeping it free of vermin. It therefore was washed, anointed, combed, and sometimes dyed. It was cut (and thinned) regularly, and the higher the person was on the social scale the more frequently he went to the barber (Sanh. 22b). Hair was worn long, and arranged in various styles; even the special style of the high priest found ostentatious imitators (Ned. 51a). The stories of Joseph and Absalom gave the rabbis occasion to comment on the moral dangers of vanity in hairstyle (Gen. R. 84:7; Sot. 1:8). It was a religious custom to have one's hair cut before the Sabbath and festivals (cf. Shab. 1:2; MK 14a). A mourner (and someone put under the minor ban) was forbidden to cut his hair and beard for at least 30 days (MK 14aff.). Certain hairstyles, like the belorit, probably a kind of pigtail hanging down from the crown of the head while the rest of the hair was shorn short, and the one called komei (κόμη), a kind of tonsure, were forbidden to Jews "as amorite (pagan) custom" (Tos. Shab. 6:1), but a dispensation was made for the patriarchal family on account of its official contacts with the Roman authorities (TJ Shab. 6:1, 7d, Av. Zar. 2:2, 41a). Beards received the same care as hair and were occasionally dyed (BM 60b; Naz. 39a). On the other hand, what was considered beautiful for men was deemed the opposite for women (TJ Ket. 7:9, 31c). Women, while not cutting their hair, would apply much care to it by arranging it skillfully in plaits and "building" it up, sometimes with the help of wigs (pe'ah nokhrit), using bands and nets, and adding jewelry as well. So elaborate were these creations that it was forbidden to undo a woman's hairdo on the Sabbath because it involved transgressing the prohibitions of "building" and "demolishing" (Shab. 94b–95a). (For the requirement that married women cover their hair, see covering of head .) Brides would wear their hair long on their wedding day (Ket. 2:10), as a sign of their virginity. Talmudic and midrashic sources contain much information about barbers and hairdressers, their lowly standing, and their implements and accessories. They also traded in perfumes and practiced manicure and pedicure, apart from carrying out certain medical functions such as bloodletting. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: R.J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology, 3 (1955), 1ff. (incl. bibl.); C. Singer et al. (eds.), A History of Technology, 1 (1955), 285ff.; A. Lucas and J.R. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries (19624), 80ff.; C. Boreux, Musיe National du Louvre, Departement des Antiquites Egyptiennes, Guide-Catalogue Sommaire, 1 (1932), 195–6, pl. xxiv; Pritchard, Pictures, pl. 93. IN THE TALMUD: Krauss, Tal Arch, 233ff.; J. Preuss, Biblisch-talmudische Medizin (19212), 414ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A.S. Herzberg, "Yofyah ve-ha-Tipu'aḥ shel ha-Ishah bi-Zeman ha-Talmud," in: He-Atid, 4 (1923), 1–53, and S. Krauss, ibid., 53–56; Antonio of Ambrosia, Women and Beauty in Pompeii, tr. G. Kelly (2001).
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.
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