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New book on bizarre beards and magnificent moustaches

The ultimate symbol of malehood for Indian men, their moustaches and beards have caught the imagination of two British authors have penned down a book featuring it.

books Updated: Dec 31, 2008 12:57 IST

A new book has captured extravagant beards and moustaches sported by generations of Indians.

For their book A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan, Britons Richard McCallum and Chris Stowers travelled across the country to take hundreds of photos of people.

The unusual work divides facial hair into groups including the chin strap, the soup strainer, the wing commander and the walrus, reports the Telegraph.

The snaps include the world''s longest beard, measuring six foot long, and the world''s longest moustache, at 11 foot six inches.

The record-breaking moustache is a big earner for Ram Singh Chauman, 54, who charges modelling fees and whose whiskers have starred in Bollywood films and even had a cameo in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.

The stars, however, of the book are the ordinary stall-owners and rickshaw drivers showing off moustaches and beards that are cut, dyed, waxed and preened in an endless variety of shapes and sizes.

Also, according to the book, the beards and moustaches sported by Indians are under threat.

McCallum, 30, a British travel operator who has lived in Delhi for four years, remarked: "It was an idea that started out as a bit of fun but turned into a labour of love.

"Beards and moustaches tell the story of modern India – how it is becoming a more Westernised, homogenised place, but also how the great traditions and the love of display still exist.Male grooming is important to Indians, and facial hair proved a topic that took us to places and into conversations with people we would never have met otherwise."

Stowers, a News photographer by trade, said: "Some people were confused when we first told them why we wanted to take their picture, but they soon became very keen. One photograph might take hours, while others were just snapped in seconds."

First Published: Dec 31, 2008 12:07 IST