Viking face paint is a subject that has been sensationalized and romanticized by popular culture. Contrary to popular belief, little is known about the facial painting practices of Nordic peoples during the Viking era. In this article, we will explore what we know about Viking face paint, and the role it played in the culture of the Vikings during the early Middle Ages.
Did The Vikings Wear Face Makeup?
According to the limited sources we have about Viking grooming practices, both men and women did wear face makeup. However, we have no evidence that Viking men wore war paint or painted their faces for any other purposes. Viking women, on the other hand, may have used other products than eyeliner to augment their beauty.
What did The Vikings Paint Their Faces With?
Viking archaeological digs reveal many relics of personal grooming, including combs, toothpicks, and tweezers. Though we do not have concrete evidence to support it, it is believed that around the eyes, Vikings would use lead sulfide or antimony sulfide to line the area with a dark Kohl product.
In different locations, they may have used different, less toxic substances to adorn their features. Charcoal was a common source of black powder or dark pigment. To create a paste that could be applied to the face, Vikings used binders like eggs or linseed oil.
How To Do Viking Face Paint?
As a starter, dark black eyeliner around the eyes can be used for decoration, albeit without lead. This was a simple facial adornment that could be easily done on one’s own.
It is important to remember that most of the perceptions we have today of Viking facial paint are based on popular movies and legends that aren’t historically accurate. Most of the perceptions of fearsome, painted warriors are based on stereotypes of the Britons and not Vikings.
Why Did The Vikings Paint Their Faces and Eyes Black?
Vikings painted their faces and eyes black primarily for the purposes of personal adornment and increasing the user’s attractiveness in the eyes of others. Viking men emphasized their masculinity by lining their eyes, while Viking women lined their eyes to enhance their femininity. In situations where Vikings wanted to intimidate their enemies, they painted all around their eyes like a mask, further striking fear into the heart of their foe.
In conclusion, Viking facial painting practices were primarily for the purposes of personal adornment and enhancing one’s attractiveness. While little evidence suggests that the historical Vikings wore face paint during battles or raids, it cannot be completely discounted. Viking archaeological digs reveal many relics of personal grooming, but little information about facial paint. Viking archaeological digs also dispel false images of Viking history, including notions of battles, war-painted warriors, and unkempt people.