Chupryna (forelock), also known as chub, or oseledets is an element of a traditional Kozak haircut. It describes a style of man's haircut that features a lock of hair sprouting from the top or the front of an otherwise closely shaven head. This ‘trend’ dates as far back as the 16th century BC.
The world’s oldest image of a Kozak with this hairstyle was discovered in the city of Mizyn, Ukraine. Archaeologists found an image graven upon a mammoth bone which, supposedly, is about 20 thousand years old. In the Aryan tribes that at that time lived in the area around the Dnieper, and later migrated towards India, this kind of hair was a sign of the military caste – the Kshatriyas. It is believed that Chupryna symbolized sunbeam, a solar sign, and thus showed the soldier’s contempt for death, as they believed that their immortal soul would rise directly to the sun through their forelock.
But chupryna was far more than just a fashion trend! Not everyone at the Zaporizhzhian Sich was entitled to have one, as this style meant one’s affiliation to the noble, almost knightly strata. It’s also interesting that no one was allowed to just give themselves a haircut like that, only after the initiation (after the first battle, the first sea voyage and complex examinations and trials) a Kozak was
allowed to shave the head, leaving the forelock (chupryna). Peasant refugees, inexperienced soldiers, liars, cowards, thieves, cheats were not allowed to have this hairstyle. Cutting off one’s forelock was considered the greatest shame and disgrace.
There were certain rules as to how one was supposed to wear this hairstyle. One was supposed to shave their head above the forehead leaving a round section of hair, the width of three fingers. The hair would eventually grow into a long braid that one could tuck on the left side, behind the left ear.
A forelock was supposed to be worn strictly behind the left ear. Like all honors and awards - sabers, swords, medals, etc.. are worn on one’s left side, so was the forelock. It was the utmost sign of a courageous, dedicated and brave Kozak.