Yes, according to the few sources we have today regarding Viking grooming customs, they did wear face makeup. Eyeliner was worn by both men and women.
The Vikings utilized kohl, a dark-colored powder consisting of crushed antimony, burned almonds, lead, oxidized copper, ochre, ash, malachite, and chrysocolla.
It protected one’s eyes from the intense glare of the sun while simultaneously heightening the wearer’s dramatic sex appeal.
In addition to this, Viking women may have utilized items other than eyeliner to enhance their appearance. It was commonly known that Viking women braided their hair intricately. Men also braided, combed, and cropped their beards.
Viking facial paint was also an important component of Nordic Viking makeup and was utilized by Nordic people throughout the Viking era.
While we cannot say for sure that makeup was widely used by Nordic Vikings, we do have some evidence, such as historical documents and make-up kits discovered in Viking graves, that suggests the practice occurred among at least a percentage of the population.
Viking Face Paint: Evidence From English Writings
Even though the Vikings lived relatively recently in history, between 700 and 1000 AD, we have fewer records of their culture, activities, and rituals than we do of civilizations that existed thousands of years before, such as the Greeks and Romans. The Vikings lacked a sophisticated writing system and hence, are absent from the historical record.
The written testimony of the Arab diplomat Ibn Fadlan is the finest evidence we have in the English historical record. He discusses men applying eye makeup to seem more intimidating.
If left alone, the detail might not tell us much, but it happens to be accompanied by another piece. According to Ibn Fadlan, they also had blue tattoos. Tattoos are a contentious subject since, like cosmetics, skin does not retain well in the archaeological record.
According to him, each man carried an ax, a sword, and a knife at all times. The swords were wide and grooved and of the Frankish kind. Moreover, each of them had tattoos of trees, figures, and the like from their fingertips to their neck.
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Another account from a very different period, location, and civilization validate the observation. According to the Annals of Fulda, Viking soldiers who attempted an assault attempt on Aachen had tattoos from head to toe.
In addition to this, archaeologists have discovered a variety of personal grooming items among the objects discovered in the vast majority of ship graves across Scandinavia and Western Europe, giving credibility to the assumption that Viking Age Scandinavians spent a significant amount of time grooming and adorning themselves.
Makeup Among Viking Women: Danish Evidence
A suspected Viking “seeress” tomb from approximately 980 was discovered in Fyrkat, Denmark. The remnants revealed that the woman was either very wealthy or had access to wealth. She was buried with exquisite clothes and jewels, both of which would have been unusual in the Scandinavian region at the time.
She was also buried wearing a box brooch containing lead carbonate. Lead carbonate, sometimes known as “white lead,” was a prevalent kind of ancient cosmetics used by the Greeks. However, historians were unaware of its toxicity.
Many scholars believe the Fyrkat lady was wearing makeup made of white lead. This idea, however, is difficult to support because no evidence of the woman’s skin was detected in the remains. It’s also unclear why the woman would have applied white lead on her face as cosmetics.
Because other things recovered in her burial showed she was a seer, it’s unclear whether the lead was used to paint her face as part of her rituals to connect with the dead.
Some speculate that the lead was used to make a dye paint with the henbane seeds and ointment recovered in the burial. That, however, would be a toxic concoction.
This is the only evidence that suggests that female Nordic Vikings wore makeup. However, the discovery of this tomb has led to many unanswered questions and the facts are often seen as unreliable. Thereby, until more evidence is uncovered, Yaqub’s writings appear to be the most trustworthy.
Did Vikings Paint Their Face For War?
Yes, Vikings were known to wear war paint. Archaeological artifacts and textual records from the time support this theory. War paint’s primary use was to ward off bad spirits, but it may also be utilized for combat protection.
The Viking belief system had a significant influence on their everyday lives, and this was just another manner in which they attempted to keep the forces of bad luck at bay. There are even tales of Vikings going into combat with runes tattooed on their flesh to defend themselves.
It is worth noting that the Vikings thought that paintings on their skin might work as bandages, keeping infections from battle wounds at bay.
If they wore anything else over it after cleaning off any blood, it would seal them and protect them from further injury if required. This is regarded as an early form of temporary tattooing!
According to historical records by the Native Americans, Viking war paint often had symbolism in Norse mythology. One design, for instance, may reflect the Nidhogg, a dragon that gnaws on Yggdrasil (the world tree).
Another interpretation might be that it represents Odin’s two ravens, Hugin and Munin, who carried him information from all around the universe.
Vikings’ usage of symbols may have been influenced by ancient runic writing systems, which may also signify elements of stories or historical events.
The Truth About The Appearance Of A Viking
There are several sources accessible to us from the Viking age concerning their physical appearance, but the most relevant source is undoubtedly excavations, where about 500 Viking remains have been discovered in Denmark.
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The average Viking was 8-10 cm (3-4 inches) shorter than us. The remains discovered by archaeologists show that a male was around 172 cm tall (5.6 ft), while a woman was approximately 158 cm tall (5,1 ft). Moreover, people in the Viking period who had access to more or better food were generally taller than ordinary people due to a superior lifestyle.
Furthermore, men’s and women’s facial characteristics were more similar in the Viking Age than they are today. Women had more pronounced brow ridges, which are considered a masculine trait, while males had a more feminine face with a less prominent jaw and brow ridges than now.
The Viking men adored their hair and beards, so much so that they were sometimes given nicknames based on them. Sweyn Forkbeard (In Danish: Svend Tveskg) and Harald Fairhair, for example, both earned their nicknames from it.
A reverse mullet, a hairstyle with long hair in the front and short hair at the rear of the head, was one of the most popular Danish hairstyles during the Viking era. There were also two prevalent hair colors in Viking society: blonde and red.
Those with blonde hair were generally found in northern Scandinavia, such as near Stockholm in Sweden, and people with red hair were mostly found in western Scandinavia, such as in Denmark.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How did female Vikings love makeup?
There have been some historical records to show that female Vikings did use makeup. However, it was mostly for war or ceremonies, and makeup was not widely practiced by female Vikings.
2. What is Viking makeup style hair?
Women in Viking civilization wore their hair long as a statement of rank and to be noticed for its beauty. Naturally, these hardworking women pulled their hair back, braided it, or wore it up to keep it out of their way while they worked the loom or went about their daily activities.
3. How do I get a Viking look by makeup?
You can decorate your face with dark black eyeliner around your eyes and use naturally occurring red and blue dyes to paint your face. However, please be cautious and don’t try to use historical formulas like lead, as it is very toxic and can have serious health consensuses.