For Mexican women, braids were a way to put away their hair in humid and hot weather beautifully. Hence, braids are intricately woven into Mexcian history.
Having naturally thick hair, braids would keep the hair from interrupting daily activities as well. Following the context of Mexican weather and the tradition to keep long hair, Mexicans have a long history of braids.
In the subsequent part of the article, we’ll talk about the history of Mexican braids. and address some concerns regarding Mexicans wearing braids and cultural appropriation.
So follow along to get educated on Mexican braids’ history!
Did ancient Mexicans Wear Braids?
Ancient Mexicans wore braids and even different styles. Back then certain braids carried a status symbol. Before colonization by the Europeans, the ancient Mexcian civilization consisted of 5 groups.
The five groups are – The Mayans, Teotihuacan, Olmecs, Aztecs and Toltecs.
However, there are no complete elaborate details on how the ancient Mexicans wore their hair. This is due to the lack of archeological evidence. Only Mayan, Aztec and Olmec history was retrieved.
According to history and archeology, for special occasions, Aztec women would adorn their hair by wearing braids.
As for Mayans, elite women would wear raveled braids adorned with fabrics and accessories.
A. Are braids part of Mexican culture?
Braids are most definitely part of Mexican culture. There are two strong indicators that will prove that braids were and still are an important part of Mexican culture.
the primary indicator of Mexican braids
First, is the subtropical climate of Mexico. The weather in Mexico is quite hot and humid. Where the humidity can go as high as 84%. In this weather, putting the hair down would overheat the Mexican women.
It is common for them to work outdoors. To prevent them from overheating with thick hair, braiding is a quick and stable solution. Unlike buns or updo hairstyles, braids keep your head breathable, so the women wouldn’t feel as hot.
Braids keep the hair together by itself, without any accessories. Considering the ancient, or old time, wearing braids just make sense!
Secondly, Mexican women have luscious, thick hair. And loose hair gets in the way of daily work both household chores and outdoor work.
So they’d wear braids to adorn themselves and look put together at the same time. With different braid styles, Mexican women would get a chance to wear their hair in various ways, doing work while looking beautiful.
B. What Do Braids Symbolize In Mexico?
In ancient times, braids carried symbols for people. Nowadays, the only symbol tied to braids would be to represent or celebrate their Mexican/indigenous roots.
1. significance of scalp locks
Scalp locks were also a significant braid style. This braid style would indicate that the person is a warrior. It symbolized bravery and honor. Touching or doing anything with the braids was a huge disrespect.
Fallen warriors would have their braids cut off and kept as trophies by their opponents.
3. How did the Aztec people communicate
For Aztec women, keeping their hair styled in different ways would communicate their status to other people.
4. Indicate whether she is married or virgin
Loose hair would indicate that the woman is unmarried and a virgin. Mothers would wear their hair twisted into braids and like a halo around their heads. Two ends of the braids would stick out like horns.
Married women would wear their hair in braids. The braids would be adorned with fabrics and hair jewelry to symbolize that they have a husband.
C. From Traditional to Modern: A History of Braids in Mexican Culture
Traditionally, Mexican braids were of different varieties. And braids were always a combination of aesthetics and functionality. So as time passed, braid styles also changed in modern times.
1. where did braids originate in mexico
One of the earliest documented braiding traditions comes from the Aztecs, Olmecs, and Mayans, who used them to communicate social class, age, and relationship status.
2. When did Mexicans start doing braids?
The ancient culture that lived in Mexico around 1500 BC is believed to be the first to wear braids. The Aztecs, who inhabited central Mexico from about 1300 to 1521 AD, also wore elaborate braids.
3. In Mexico, how did braids become popular?
Braids have been popular in Mexico for centuries, due to the country’s unique culture and history.
The popularity of braids began to grow in the 1920s, and they have continued to be popularized over the years by actresses, singers, and other celebrities. The most recent example of this is actress Salma Hayek, who wore her hair in traditional Mexican braids in the movie Frida.
4. What are popular traditional braids?
Popular traditional braids often use only fabric and flowers as accessories. There are Oaxaca-style braids, crown braids, braid buns, and loop ribbon braids.
In modern times, ponytail braids, space bun braids, and many other braids are popular. Modern braids take inspiration from traditional styles and blend with modern twists.
Let’s explore traditional braids in more detail
I. Single Braid
This is the most common braid style for traditional Mexican women. The entire head of long hair would be parted into 3 parts. And then woven into each other to create a braid. To tie the end, some use fabric or simply tie a knot at the end.
II. Oaxaca Style Braids
Women from Oaxaca traditionally braid their hair like this. Generally, it’s on the occasion of honoring the patron saint.
To present their vivid and cheerful spirit, the women would braid their hair in twin braids with a piece of satin fabric.
The process is parting the hair in 3 parts. After braiding a bit of the hair, use a piece of satin fabric and cover 2 parts of the hair with it. And finish braiding the hair.
III. Crown Braid
Crown braids are perhaps the most functional braids for Mexican women. In this style, the twin braids would go around the head to create a halo. Then it’d be tied on top or at the end.
In crown braids, the braids don’t even hang and stay on top of the hand. It creates a crown, provides air circulation to the scalp, and creates a crown for the women. Quite functional for busy women!
Frida Kahlo made this style popular with mainstream audiences.
IV. Looped Twin Braid
Looped twin braids were popular braid styles for little girls. Starting off like ribboned twin braid, then the braid would put the end of the braid up at the top. Which creates a loop, then the braid would be secured with pins or the fabric itself.
D. Braids Can Be a Powerful Connection to Mexican Culture
All the traditional outfits of Mexican women include braiding their hair. The traditional dance we see in Mexican culture is the Oaxaca festival for honoring the saint patron.
And even the popular animated movie, Coco represented every Mexican woman in braids. Along with the archeological evidence, braids hold a powerful connection to Mexican culture.
E. Can Mexicans wear cornrows, or would it be cultural appropriation?
Mexicans can wear cornrows and it would not be a cultural appropriation. Because the ancient Olmec people have worn cornrows to protect their hair from damage. So cornrow is also a part of Mexican culture.
F. Cultural appropriation is bullshit for Mexicans
Olmec heads had dreadlocks on them. The married women would wear their hair similar to crown braids.
And we have always heard that dreadlocks and cornrows are strictly African. In reality, they’re not so exclusive as the claims as the archeological evidence suggests.
For protective reasons, ancient Mexicans wore cornrows and dreadlocks. Because it’d save them from taking care of their hair for quite a while.
We can conclude that Cultural appropriation is indeed bullshit for Mexicans.
I. Why the Mexican Influence on Braids
Braids are one of the most prominent symbols of Mexican culture. Hence, the Mexicans influence braids so much. They represent many of the braid styles in their history after all!
II. Why do Mexicans wear ribbons in their braids?
Mexicans nowadays wear ribbons in their braids to represent their past tradition and culture. It represents the Oaxaca region women who would wear ribbons for celebratory occasions. Other regions of Mexican women also wore ribbons in their braids!
Can a Mexican get box braids?
Mexican can wear box braids if they have black hair. Traditional Mexican braids don’t include box braids and cornrows.
What are Ancient Egyptian hairstyles?
Ancient Egyptian hairstyles varied from period to period. At different times, they shaved their heads, wore wigs, and braided their hair.
Why are braids a sign of patience in religion?
Braids have been used as a sign of patience and overcoming haste throughout religious history. They are often seen as a representation of strength and determination. In many cultures, braiding someone’s hair is seen as an act of love and care.
When did box braids start trending on African American women?
They started trending on African American women in the 1990s and early 2000s. Some of the earliest adopters were singers like Janet Jackson and Brandy. More recently, Beyoncé, Tia Mowry, and Gabrielle Union have been seen sporting the style.
What does braids mean to Thai people?
Braids are a big part of Thai culture and often brightly colored. They can be worn by Thai ladies, but as long as there are people who misunderstand their cultural significance, Thai women may still be seen in a negative light for wearing them. Braids are popular in Thailand but not mainstream. They are part of Thailand’s history
That concludes the article on Mexican braids’ history. Reading the article should remove the recent controversy on Mexican women’s culture appropriating African braids.
Now we know that braids have been a significant part of Mexican culture. Braids should be worn while respecting and celebrating every culture.