Sunday, 10 February 2019

Robert Wiśniewski: Wherever you go, or the origin of the clerical tonsure

Clerical tonsure, the beginning of which can be traced to the 6th century attracted the attention of several scholars. They studied mostly its symbolic value, interestingly not being in agreement whether it was a sign of humility, symbolic castration, or triumphant masculinity. The tonsure certainly had a symbolic value, it also could be used by clerics to emphasise their special status. But in this paper, I will argue that unlike the clerical dress, the tonsure was not so much adopted by as imposed on the middle and lower clergy. It was introduced in the first place as an instrument thanks to which the bishops could control and impose discipline on their subordinates.

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