A person’s hair says a lot about their personality. The hair reflects even the mood you are in at the moment and, of course, your personality, outlook on life, and a thousand things. You change throughout your life, and your hair accompanies you in that change.
The texture of the hair, its color, or its natural shape condition much of what we can or can not do with the hair, but stylists are clear that the cut, color, the collected, and even the bangs can say a lot about the person we intend to be.
A tailor with a tight bun gives a stronger, more distant, colder image, but if it is a more broken texture like a looser braid, the idea is that of a more romantic, sweet, more childlike woman. Certain hairstyles communicate childhood, as is the case of braids, with connotations of more softness, sweetness and this is also seen in brides if they opt for them against a glossy mane or a tight updo.
But there is a specific type of braids that are far from being indignant or candid; on the contrary, they reflect pride and power; we are talking about Afro-descendant braids. And since they can be seen more and more in the streets and on television, and you can’t take a step without coming across a braiding shop, why not learn a little more about them?
A clay sculpture from the ancient Nok civilization of Nigeria around 500 BC shows a figure adorned with sewn braids (cornrows). In Africa, historically, cornrows could be used to express religion, familiarity, status, age, and ethnic composition, among other attributes. When people from Africa were brought to the New World as slaves, they initially faced a loss of identity. While making the “Middle Passage” (that’s what they called the journey from Africa to America), their heads were often shaved for sanitary reasons.
African hair is also quite heavy. According to some sources, during the slave trade era, it was considered “unmanageable.” So, to maintain a neat appearance, Africans began to wear their hair in tight braids such as ‘cane rows’ and others.
But perhaps the most crucial way braids helped the African slave population was to provide a discreet and easy way to hide and create maps to transfer escape routes to flee their captors.
Since slaves didn’t write, or even if they were, these types of messages or maps in the wrong hands could create many problems for the people in question; braids were the perfect way to do this.
No one would question or think that they could hide maps in their hairstyle, so it was easy to circulate them without anyone knowing.
In the 1950s, braids had a resurgence. At the same time, the afro was becoming famous for black descendants in America. With race relations on the way to becoming a sensitive issue, black artists, schoolchildren and activists began to look for African styles to style their hair.
Today, the care and maintenance of black hairstyles have become a multi-million-dollar industry. Hence, nowadays, there is no shopping mall where it is not possible to find at least one braiding shop.