Beards come in many different forms on many different people.
Some are large and ungroomed, others are short and perfectly coiffed. Some are part of people's religious observances, while others are worn by hipsters. In this video from the BBC World Service, some of the world's greatest beards — and the greatest characters — are examined.
Some people were a little upset for being left out of the exposé, but they were missing the big picture, according to photographer Brock Elbank.
"John Hurt doesn't have a particularly big beard," Elbank said. "But if you look at the face framing the beard, it's a face that needs to be photographed, so that's why those subjects were chosen."
There has been some scientific inquiry into beards, and the results are interesting. Many researchers believe beards were originally a source of warmth, intimidation or protection, according this infographic. Also, there was a discrepancy between the ratio of men who had beards in the United States and the men who have bears in the rest of the world: in America, only 33 percent of men had beards. Globally, though, that number was about 55 percent.
But men weren't the only ones to be profiled, and aren't the only ones with beards. There was also this bearded woman:
You can see the full exhibition here.
BBC World Service contributed the photographs and video content to this post.