Sunday, January 03, 2021

Syphilis, Lice, and the Law

Why do British and Australian lawyers and judges wear wigs in court?

The short answer Tradition, syphilis, and lice.

To start, the wigs are  typically made of horse hair.

Second, they’re expensive — from $500 to $3,000 depending on model.

Tradition is self-explanatory.  The tradition goes back to the late 16th century when people with syphilis were plagued by rashes, blindness, dementia, open sores and... hair loss.  

Hair loss was deemed to be a good indication of syphilis, and wigs covered over a lot of problems.

Wigs also made it possible for barristers to cut their hair short, which made lice less of a problem, as wigs could be easily picked or dunked in lice killer.

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