Talk:Polish plait

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Can someone verify the last paragraph? As far as I know the plaited pigtail worn by Chinese Qing dynasty officials/noblemen were real plaits/braids as opposed to Polish plait, which from what I can gather is a variation of dreadlock... and if I remember correctly, even peasants and common-born men in Qing dynasty era wore plaits. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:29, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure about adding this to the "polish culture" category. I know the disorder was first described there, but is it really a Polish cultural item? Joyous 00:34, Dec 1, 2004 (UTC)

Oh. I see now. Sorry.  :-) Joyous 01:27, Dec 1, 2004 (UTC)

This is clearly a made up article. Ive never heard of Polish plait. Can someone verify the veracity of the facts

How about a quick Google search for the start? --[[User:Kpalion|Kpalion (talk)]] 08:04, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yup, even Jasienica described it. However, I removed the Polish culture category - this really does not belong there. Halibutt 15:46, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)

Good choice, Halibutt! --Bialosz (talk) 07:18, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Polish Plait[edit]

I read the article whilst eating my lunch. Not a good idea. I have actually met a person who was an alcoholic who was afflicted with that condition. I offered to help her by cutting her hair for her, but she would not allow me to.

Regards, --TracyRenee 13:42, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Nice article. Ground 15:01, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Thanks. --[[User:Kpalion|Kpalion (talk)]] 22:17, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

How is this a disease? There are no symptoms. Inflamed scalp? Is that the symptom? Is this actually considered a disease in medical literature? It just sounds like dreadlocks to me.

A disease is any abnormal condition of the body or mind that causes discomfort, dysfunction, or distress to the person affected or those in contact with the person. Plica polonica does cause discomfort and distress to the person affected (itchy, and very painful to touch) and those in contact with the person (smells bad for instance). --[[User:Kpalion|Kpalion (talk)]] 22:17, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

how does this differ from just one big dreadlock?

I've seen some homeless people with what looks like Polish Plait to me (Although I'm no doctor). Is the disease still around today?--[[User:Marie Rowley|Marie | Talk]] 07:49, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

AFAIK, it's much less common nowadays, especially in developed countries, but still, if you don't wash, comb and cut your hair, you'll be quite likely to develop a Polish plait. A homeless person suffering from one would not surprise me much. --[[User:Kpalion|Kpalion (talk)]] 17:45, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I see, a little "yucky" but nice article!.--[[User:Marie Rowley|Marie | Talk]] 05:56, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I saw a kid about my age with Polish plait yesterday... it wasn't as much disgusting as just very awkward-looking. Tim Rhymeless (Er...let's shimmy) 23:00, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This Actually Exists, But ...[edit]

This condition actually exists, and is suitably grotesque -- but its description as Polish Plait seems to be an oddity from the 19th century. There is a reference to it in the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd Edition):

Polish plait, `a matted condition of the hair induced by neglect, dirt, and pediculi, common in Poland, Lithuania, and Tartary' (Syd. Soc. Lex., s.v. Plica polonica): see plica 1.

The only usage the OED cites is:

1875 Sir W. Turner in Encycl. Brit. I. 812/2 He described the state of the hair when affected with Polish plait.

Though, a quick Google search shows that the latin form "plica polonica" is still common currency among "hair specialists". How bizarre.--Simon.Pole 07:22, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

The medicine of XIX c. often had oddities or preconceptions, often tinted with prejudice. Those writings need to be put into perspective.I treat XVIII & XIX c. writing with certain distance, for this reason. The era of Enlightement had its own dark side, also in medicine, and sadly certain prejudices even lived to the times of the Nazis. XIX c. there were times when people, including so called "enlightened " members of medical proffession were talking about plica polonica, plica judaica, feator judaica (Jewish stench) etc. Oddities which simply shows the level of prejudice on the side of the people who used those terms in medical literature. My professor whose class in medical anthropology I took was telling that if people were prejudiced against certain ethnic groups, talking about them as being dirty or depictions as such in writing is a common thing. One oddity was that plica was considered infectious disease which originated in Poland, Lithuania and Tartary and was infecting the rest of Europe. Another example of oddities of XIX c. thinking was the belief that women had no sexual drive, and medical profession developed "cures" even very drastic ones, for women who had sexual drive. This is info will help, I hope, to put XIX c. writings in some perspective. It would be difficult today to know exactly how odd appearing this condition was in general --Bialosz (talk) 19:28, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

I have had Plica Polonica[edit]


I was 19 yrs old, when I developed this awful sticky, smelly, mass on the right side of my scalp. I was not told the name of this disorder. But I now have my medical records, and see that the doctor that treated me for it diagnosed it as plica polonica. I do not see anything in the description of this disorder that would apply to myself. I am not of polish descent, I never had kinky or curly hair, I kept my hair very clean, I had no history of mental illness, except for the fact that I was depressed, due to a disease named Hidradenitis Suppurativa (which my doctor also kept the name of that disease from me also!!) The doctor prescribed a lotion and shampoo (Baker's P&S) after about 2 months of using these my scalp healed very well. Now 25 yrs later, I still suffer with my Hidradenitis, but I don't have any scalp problems, other than slight dander. Can anyone tell me if this disorder has a tendency of recurrance? And if the plica & hidradenitis have a common link?

Thanks user cody2000

Where in the article did you read that the Polish plait affetcs people of Polish descent, with kiny or curly hair and mentally ill? It only says that it's the result of deficient hair care. Prescribing shampoo and lotion was a natural solution to this kind of problem. Kpalion 13:45, 16 April 2006 (UTC)


what happened to the picture of man with the really cool nice looking polish plait! why was it taken off? --Snowy Mcintosh 17:44, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

East Asia[edit]

I cut this from the article:

"A similar hairstyle was once relatively common in East Asia, particularly Imperial China, where it was often worn in combination with extremely long fingernails. These fashions were reserved mainly for noblemen and ascetics, who wished to advertise their freedom from menial labor and earthly attachment. For the average peasant, such a coiffure would have been ludicrously impractical."

per concerns above -- this does not really seem related to polish plaits. -- phoebe/(talk) 06:06, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Dirt not always present[edit]

I understand that certain things may appear bizare, sensationalistic even, but things are not as simple as plica polonica equals dirt and neglect. I saw links to this article quoted as oddity, etc.Fact from the article even appeared on wikipedia main page. Sure, level of hygiene wasn't as good as today, but keep in mind that severely tangled hair can happen today, even when someone is, or was very hygienic.In fact plica can appear after for ex. someone was washing hair, has dry and longer hair, and goes to had without using a hair dryer, and wakes up with hair impossible to detangle, which needs to be just cut of.In English speaking countries this is called tangled hair, in Poland it still has the name koltun, which means plica.

In Polish folklore such pieces were not cutoff. Or were created intentionally, like dreadlocks according to my readings in reliable sources.I did limited field research on Polish folklore myself, in Poland, have one informant, an octogenerian in rural are who still remembers folk belief about it, that some (some, not all) people believed that this condition was caused by witchcraft, and in her memory it wasn't any dirty or lice infested or infected hair formation, just uncombed, and could form relatively quickly.One informant is not enough, but this is just one example how complex this phenomenon was, or is. This can be also cosmetic problem, if is not a dread lock, and we will never know how many of Polish plaits were indeed pathological, how many were clean. Can't make carpet statement about it, specially if this relates also to anthropology, not the medical sciences only. I am not an anthropologist, or folklorist by profession, just have strong interests. --Bialosz (talk) 20:14, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Medical condition part needs to be improved[edit]

I am working on expanding this article. Still lots to do, editing references, adding information, sources, etc. This is work in progress.I noticed that the part about plica as a medical condition has problems:

a) it quotes XIX c. source which is given too much weight b) doesn't describe this condition in accordance to contemporary standard, as puts strong focus on extreme forms of pathology, " The Polish plait is typically a (sometimes large) head of hair, made of a hard impenetrable mass of keratin fibers permanently cemented together with dried pus, blood, old lice egg-casings and dirt."

The XIX c.source itself is anachronistic in several aspects. I plan to edit this part in accordance to contemporary sources,listed definition from Trichological Society in Britain, is more expanded, can you give more of reliable sources? I will appreciate it. I am sure this XIXc. source is valuable reference, specially in the perspective of history of medicine, or social history.I plan to add a similar source myself. But I plan to add it as reference to history section, not rely too strongly on its definition, as the source is in many ways an anachronism, (in accordance to definition in wiktionary). --Bialosz (talk) 18:12, 19 June 2013 (UTC)