Friday, 9 January 2015

Our History: Yoruba Hair Styles

The Head occupies a pre-eminent place compared with other parts of the body; so too, the hair that covers the head. The culture and tradition of hair-do is rooted in both spiritual and biological roles of an individuals head. The head is treasured and respected, because, it is the center of body activity; through hair-do and care, Ori (head) is highly esteemed.
In times past, hair-dos or styles perform several roles among Yoruba; these functions or roles include: medium of communication, mark of initiation, state of mind, religious beliefs, marital and social status of women in the society. For instance, a hair style from the forehead which ends at the back of the neck shows the carrier is married; besides, married women carry hair styles from both sides of the head, and finish up at the middle of the head in such a network shape that connect the forehead and back together. On the other hand, maiden style runs from the right side of the head to the left ear. The smaller, and the more hair strands a young lady carries, the more beautiful such a lady will look. Maidens usually carry hair-style of 8 to 14 strands, in braided or wrapped form.

Braiding and binding (the use of thread to make strands) are the two common ways to beautify hair by women in the past. However, braiding (Irun biba; knotting hair) comes in different styles, these include:
Ṣuku- a braiding hair style either short or long knots, it runs from forehead to the back or crown of the head.
Kolẹsẹ- as the name suggests (without legs), it is a braiding style, each knot runs from the front and terminates at the back of the head, close to the neck.
Ipakọ-Ẹlẹdẹ- this braiding style starts from the back of the head, but ends at the front.
Panumọ-(keep quite) – hair style, with two different starting points, the back and the front. The knots meet at the center with a little opening.
Ojompeti (rain soaked ear) – braiding starts from one side of the head, ends close to the ear.

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