African Ghana Wall Mask, Woman with Braided Hair, Hand Carved Ebony.

  • $57.00


African Ghana Decorative Wall Mask, Woman with Braided Hair, Hand Carved Ebony.

 

More Than a Hairstyle, How Braids Were Used To Keep Our Ancestors Alive.

Nowadays, braids are a protective and creative style women use to show off their personal style, their creativeness or protect their hair and scalp. But centuries before, braids were much more than just a hairstyle.

Braids are a part of the tribal customs in Africa. The braid patterns signify the tribe and help to identify the member of the tribe. The cultural significance and roots of braiding can be traced back to the African tribes.

There are many interesting beliefs associated with braids. Braid patterns or hairstyles indicate a person’s community, age, marital status, wealth, power, social position, and religion. And in some cases, braids were a form of survival.

Rice was hidden in braids in order to help slaves survive the middle passage. 

“Many African women braided rice or seeds into their hair before journeying the Middle Passage, on their way to enslavement or braided it into their children’s hair before separation, so that they could eat. The maroon community of Suriname, the community with the highest number of undiluted African blood in the Western Hemisphere, demonstrates how their ancestors did it. But more interestingly so, Suriname is the only place where one can find a specific grain of rice from Africa. The rest of the ‘New World’ cultivated an Asian rice. Talk about the real version of ‘Protective Style.’”

Depictions of women with cornrows have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara, and have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C. There are also Native American paintings as far back as 1,000 years showing cornrows as a hairstyle. This tradition of female styling in cornrows has remained popular throughout Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa and West Africa.

Historically, male styling with cornrows can be traced as far back as the early nineteenth century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing cornrows.

Elaborate patterns were historically done for special occasions like weddings, social ceremonies or even war preparations.

People belonging to a tribe can easily be identified by another tribe member with the help of a braid pattern or style.

Immense importance is given to the custom of braiding. The person who braids hair performs it as both a ritual and a social service. It is an art form taught by the senior female member of the family to her daughters and close friends.

This history of braids goes even deeper when you talk about Columbia. Enslaved Africans first started arriving in Colombia in the 16th century, brought there by Spaniards who colonized the area.

The Afro-Colombian hairstyles have origins from these times of slavery when women would sit to comb their children’s hair after a backbreaking day of labour.

The braids were often used to relay messages between slaves, signal that they were going to escape, or even used to keep gold and seeds to help them survive after they would run away.

Because women slaves were initially perceived as a lesser threat, they would hide symbols and items in their hair that would mean various things. Although they were raped and treated as sexual objects to the slave master, their crown carried messages of hope and freedom.
The box braids [we saw in] the ‘90s and [even today] aren’t that different from the Eembuvi braids of Namibia or the chin-length bob braids of the women of the Nile Valley over 3,000 years ago.

Women weaved the hair into a fibre skull cap made from extremely durable materials, such as wool, felt and even human hair unlike the wig caps you find in most beauty supply stores today.

“Cowrie shells, jewels, beads and other meaningful items charmed box braids of earlier women eluding to their readiness to mate, emulation of wealth, high priesthood and various other classifications,” “Box braids were expensive in terms of time, material and installation. It could have been assumed that a woman who could afford to sit for many hours adorning her crown was indeed a woman of fortune.”

Item Code - WOO6E593PAN

Width: 4 "  Height: 10 3/8"  Depth: 1 1/2"  Weight: 558 g


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