BARBER (Lat. barba, the beard), a shaver of the beard, and who ordinarily includes hair-cutting in his profession. Barbers are of great antiquity, if not for the shaving of the beard, at least for shaving a portion of the head. The office of the E. is referred to by the prophet Ezekiel: "And thou, son of man, take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy bcard."—Ezek. v. 1. In all oriental countries, including China, the shaving the whole or part of the head continues to be performed by barbers. In every part of the world, the professional B. and hair-dresser is celebrated for his garrulity and general obliging qualities, such being required by those who place themselves in his hands. The amusing character of the B. in one of the tales in the Arabian Nights Entertainments, and also of the B. in Rossini's opera of Kgaro, will readily occur to recollection. As will be seen from the succeeding article, barbers at one time acted as a kind of surgeons, and accordingly occupied a higher social position than they now enjoy. Latterly, on account of the simple mode of trimminp. the hair,
and of the prevalence of private shaving, the business of the B. in England has greatly declined, and his services are chiefly confined to the humbler classes. In the United States, the business of the B. is almost exclusively in the hands of the colored popula tion. Anciently, one of the utensils of the B. was a brass basin, with a semicircular gap in one side to compass a man's throat, by which means, in applying the lather to the face, the clothes were not soiled. Readers will recollect that Don Quixote crazily assumed a barber's basin as a helmet. At the end of a pole, the brass basin is still hung out as a sign at the door of the B. in Great Britain, France, and other countries.