This African Hair Art Will Make You Do a Double Take

Check out this eye catching hair art from IG artist/model Laetitia Ky and its importance in African culture.


African Hair Art

Credit:@laetitiaky

As early as the 15th century, different tribes used hair to show one’s social hierarchy. Members of royalty wore elaborate hairstyles as a symbol of their stature. 

Hair was also a symbol of fertility. If a person’s hair was thick, long, and neat, it symbolized that one was able to bear healthy children. If someone were in mourning, they would pay very little attention to their hair.

Hair maintenance in traditional Africa was aimed at creating a unique sense of beauty. The hair is the most elevated part of the body and was therefore considered a portal to send and receive messages from the gods.

A woman with long thick hair demonstrated the life force, the multiplying power of profusion, prosperity...a green thumb for raising bountiful farms and many healthy children", wrote Sylvia Ardyn Boone, an anthropologist specializing in the Mende culture of Sierra Leone. In Yoruba culture in West Africa, people braided their hair to send messages to the gods.

 

Because of the cultural and spiritual importance of hair for Africans, the practice of having their heads involuntarily shaved before being sold as slaves was in itself a dehumanizing act. "The shaved head was the first step the Europeans took to erase the slaves’ culture and alter the relationship between the African and his or her hair.


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