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(tŏn`shər) [Lat.,=to shave], formerly, practice in some Christian churches of cutting some of the hair from the scalp of clerics. In the West the tonsure consisted of a circular patch on the crown of the head from which the hair was kept cut; some tonsures kept the entire head shaved above the ears, and some retained a broad band of hair around the head. Different religious orders had different tonsures. In the 6th and 7th cent. one of the outstanding questions between the Celtic use and the Roman use was the tonsure, which the Celts made by cutting the hair off the front part of the head. The Roman Catholic Church abolished the practice of tonsure in 1972. See orders, holyorders, holy
[Lat. ordo,=rank], in Christianity, the traditional degrees of the clergy, conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Order. The episcopacy, priesthood or presbyterate, and diaconate were in general use in Christian churches in the 2d cent.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a church ritual in Christianity. The rite of tonsure is performed upon admission into the clerical or monastic state. It was adopted from the custom of cropping the hair of slaves in Rome and Greece and symbolizes “enslavement to god.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Then in 1972 he issued another apostolic letter, Ministeria Quaedam (On First Tonsure, Minor Orders, and the Subdiaconate), by which he eliminated tonsure, minor orders, and the subdiaconate while establishing two installed ministries of lector and acolyte, mostly for priesthood candidates.
However, what Vanessa Paradis must have thought when he came home with his head shaved like a monk's tonsure, a Hawaiian shirt louder than Cardiff on a Saturday night and the gait of a constipated gibbon is anyone's guess.
The President said he has directed the Minister of Defence tonsure that PIA comes to Sri Lanka so it enables Pakistani businessmen to invest in business which is better for both the countries.
Balding men used to be happy to walk around with a tonsure, that ring doughnut of monkish hair.
In addition, online contacts between colleges and Secretariat have been enhanced and the monitoring system has been made more effective tonsure attendance of teachers in colleges.
It reminded me of Johnny Wood at school who had a tonsure type hair style with hair growing all around his ostrich egg shaped bald bit.
His latest snip of news came as he tidied up my tonsure at the back.
Seward thinks that Savonarola's favorite target, the tiepidi, or lukewarm Christians, were a political party, that at age thirty he had long curly hair to his shoulders (although by this time the friar had been wearing the tonsure for some seven years) that the Florentine institution called the Parlamento (not parliamento) was a body that "debated motions" (93), that Vincenzo Bandelli, Savonarola's former teacher, prior, and later bitter enemy, was "an old Dominican friend" of the friar (188), that the sixteenth-century writer known as pseudo-Burlamacchi had been his intimate, and so on.
Lewis JP, Stofella SL, Feldman SR (2001) The origin of tonsure like gaps in Spartina argentinensis Parodi.
Rituals: Salutations, Tonsure, and the Saint of the Day
Some gender historians, like Robert Mills, see this relation espoused through the medieval representation of the tonsure and the association of hair (or lack thereof) with matters of social hierarchy, power, authority, and manhood.
"I only played a bit part - I was just a monk with a long costume and a tonsure."