Braid Symbolism: What Does Braided Hair Symbolize

In modern days braids are a unique way of managing your hair. Also, it adds some extra elegance to your hair volume and length. But in ancient times, people had some spiritual belief behind braiding, which is known as braid symbolism.

Now you might wonder about braid symbolism: what does braided hair symbolize? Braid symbolism indicates people’s spiritual beliefs. For example, some Africans see braiding as a way of communication or patience.

Well, if you got interested in the mentioned facts and want to know more about braid symbolism, then this is the right place to find the answer. So, let’s dive into the details straightly.

What Does Braid Mean? 

The centuries-old custom of wearing one’s hair in braids has been updated for the present day. Nevertheless, this in no way diminishes its potency. Braided hair has a spiritual significance in many different religions and cultures that can be communicated to you through the braids.

Even though the most elaborate braids and plaits originated in Africa, the cradle of civilization, they have been worn all across the world. The Venus (or Woman) of Willendorf, a fertility fetish built 30,000 years ago, includes braided hair on a sensuous torso.

What Does Braid Mean

What Did The Different Braiding Styles Signify?  

There are some major types of braiding style that signifies different thoughts. So let’s check out.

1. Ghana Braids

Ghana Braids

The first depictions of Ghana braids date back to 500 B.C. in African hieroglyphics and sculptures. Since then, fashion has played a significant role in Ghana’s religious, social, and cultural practices.

2. Cornrows


In Africa, cornrows have been around since 3000 B.C. The patterns were commonly used to identify a person’s tribal affiliation and social standing within their community. These braided hairstyles were a visual cue that indicated a person was a warrior or a monarch.

3. Fulani Braids

Fulani braids, also known as feed-in braids, are traditional hairstyles of the Fulani (Fula) people of West Africa and the Sahel. The widespread nomad population ensured the hairstyle’s continuity from mother to daughter.

4. Goddess Braids

There is evidence that goddess braids originated in Ancient Africa. While they resemble conventional cornrows in general form, the braids in these hairstyles are typically substantially thicker all the way through, elevated, and highly sleek and defined. They represented a new level of fashion, innovation, and artistic skill.

5. Box Braids

South Africans have been wearing box braids since 3500 B.C. There is still an investment of up to eight hours involved in producing this look. Many people assume that a woman who took the time and money to braid her hair this way must be financially secure.

6. Bantu Knots

Bantu knots are a hairstyle that dates back to 1898. They were originally worn by women of the Madagascar and Zulu tribes of Africa as a way to signify the marital status of a married woman. Bantu knots can be worn in a variety of ways and can be used to achieve different looks.

Spiritual Significance Of Braids 

Spiritual Significance Of Braids 

The Spiritual significance of braids are given below:

a. Social Significance

In some circles, sporting a dutch braid is thought to indicate high social standing. Those who wear their hair in braids are viewed as prosperous and powerful in Dutch society.

Back in the day, the average Dutch male didn’t wear braids. It’s a status symbol that shows off your financial success.

This view may appear to have been abandoned by modernity, but this does not change the fact that it once held some validity. For example, in the Dutch tradition, if you braid your hair, it’s a sign that you’re part of a prestigious group.

There is a common belief that good fortune is on the horizon if you dream of braiding your hair. In Dutch culture, this is interpreted as a portent of future prosperity.

b. Way Of Socializing

Braid Symbolism

Making braids has multiple mystical significances throughout Africa. Africans place a high value on communication, which is a central tenet of their culture. Since making braids takes so long, it’s a great time to catch up with friends and family. Therefore, during braiding, conversations can take place.

Making braid can be used as a spiritual metaphor for the development of effective communication abilities. Communicating effectively is key to fostering fulfilling and satisfying connections with others. It’s a message regarding braids from the African point of view.

c. Self-restraint

One of the most important lessons that can be learned from this is patience. The end result of braiding hair is stunning, but the technique takes considerable time. It takes a long time to have the client’s hair done.

Moreover, the best outcome is achieved when the hairdresser takes their time to painstakingly lock the hairs in the best and most correct form.

Even in different regions, some people still believe that if you dream that you are braiding your hair, the spiritual world is telling you to be patient because the end result will be huge. You will not achieve your goals without exercising patience.

d. Wisdom

Making braids is a form of wisdom. Braids are seen as a symbol of a person’s ancient knowledge and wisdom in African religion. This is because the pattern resembles the locks of the river goddess.

Therefore, braiding can help you gain insight into life. You might gain insight from the conversations you have with other customers while getting your hair done.

The words of others will become wisdom to you as you engage in conversation. So, consider the braid a symbol of wisdom bestowed upon you by the gods. Most divine beings sport a braided hairdo.

e. Focus

Getting your hair braided or woven-free will increase your concentration or focus on something. Another fact is if your hair is in disarray, you won’t be able to focus on the task at hand. The hair will continually invade your eyes or cause a distraction to your mind. In that case, having your hair braided will help you to focus.

Why Do Africans Braid Their Hair? 

Why Do Africans Braid Their Hair

Hairstyles that featured braids were a distinctive marker of tribal membership in many African communities. The way a person braided their hair revealed information about their age, marital status, income, authority, and religion, among other things. Indeed, braiding was and still is a very social activity.

But there’re some other reasons too. Those are:

 I. For Natural Hair Growth

Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, African hair is naturally dry and fragile, so it breaks easily and grows slowly, preventing many women from obtaining their desired hair length. According to science, braiding hair encourages hair growth by increasing blood flow to the scalp.

II. Conditioning

Because of its wavy nature and rough appearance, African hair is prone to becoming wild and unmanageable. African women braid their hair so that they will seem presentable and orderly. This improves their overall appearance, making them feel more attractive and confident.

The Connection Between Hair And Identity In Black Culture

Braids were a sign of identity and social status before slavery. African people didn’t have the materials or resources to take care of their hair during slavery.

Cornrows are a sensitive topic because they reflect the dark history of oppression and theft of black people. Women in the African-American community often wear cornrow hairstyles as a form of liberation.

Knowing when to draw the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation can be tricky. Cultural exchange is a good thing, but cultural appropriation is when people take things from other cultures without giving back. This can be seen as disrespectful and devaluing to the culture that it is taken from.

Compared to white people, black people face many disadvantages, but they also have advantages.

Black people face disadvantages like stereotypes and profiling, but they can also look forward to a lot. Black culture should be celebrated for its differences from white culture. When Black culture is used in a positive way, it is not segregation, but celebration.


What culture did braids come from?

African culture, around 3500 B.C., is when the practice of braiding hair began, and it quickly became a fashionable style for women. Braids are more than simply a fashion trend; they need skill and creativity to perfect. Braiding originated with the Himba people of Namibia and spread across Africa.

What are tribal braids?

As a form of braiding, tribal braids can be traced back to Africa. Beads, shells, and rings are common embellishments for these braids, which also feature a variety of braiding techniques. The most well-known tribal braid styles are the Fulani braid, the box braid, and the Ghana braid.

How the Ancient Egyptians Worshiped Snakes Through Braids

Braids have a long and complicated history, with many different meanings and purposes attributed to them over time. One of the most interesting and little-known aspects of their history is their association with snakes.

It is believed that the ancient Egyptians wore braids as a symbol of their religion, which was based around the worship of snakes. This is thought to be because snakes were considered to be the first creation by the ancient Egyptians.

Who first popularized the French braid?

The French braid has a long and varied history. It is believed to have originated in early European cultures and was later popularized by Queen Marie Antoinette of France. In 1825, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson created a style of braiding hair that became known as the “Pompadour braid.” This new style quickly gained popularity throughout France and Europe.

What are Mexican braids?

Mexican braids are a type of braid that is unique and has an unconventional style. They can be worn by themselves or even merged with other styles to create an even more unique look. Mexican braids originate from Mexico, which is known as the “land of braids.

What type of hairstyle is the shi zi ji?

The shi zi ji is a type of traditional Chinese bun braid style that was popular during the Wei Jin and North and South Dynasties period. This hairstyle uses the braided plate method, which involves braiding the hair into a flat, wide plate that is then coiled into a bun shape.


So what is braid symbolism? Like previous information, it simply indicates people’s spiritual beliefs regarding hair braiding. However, as time passes, these thoughts are also faded away and replaced it by different braiding styles.

Therefore, pay attention to the spiritual and physical benefits of braiding to get the full benefits of braid patterns. 

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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