Where Did Braids Originate From? Know The True History!

Braiding technique isn’t just a method or manner; it has become a social art. In fact, twisting hairstyles are probably the most versatile style for women worldwide and for some ethnic men. But where did hair braids originate, and why do Black people have braids most of the time?

The origin of braids isn’t only one country. Africa originated most of the braided hairstyles, but there are some old and popular styles that originated from different cultures, such as crown braids from Europe, staircase braids from China, classic braids from Egypt, and so on.

Some put on braids to show respect for their culture, and some put on to manage and protect their natural hair. Read along to know about the history of different braiding methods.

What Are The Origins Of The Different Braids?

where does braids come from

The very fast images of braided hairstyles came from the 3000 BC Saharan Desert. Ancient Africa first came with cave paintings of women having intricate braids starting from their scalp, which we know as Cornrows in the present world.

Braid isn’t just a hairstyle; it holds multiple purposes. You can even guess a person’s identity by looking at their braided hairstyles, such as their marital status, wealth, societal status, ethnicity, and even the person’s age.

The importance and history of braids to certain ethnic people are strongly involved with their psychological trauma and resiliency of trans-Atlantic and colonial bondage.

But the ancient people didn’t let go of their symbol of sacrifice that was made by shaving their heads. Africans still follow hair braiding styles as their traditional hairstyle. 

If we observe how Africans keep their braiding hairstyle alive for generation after generation, it’s evident that they have deep roots in braids in African cultural history. Here’s a chart of where did braids originally come from:

Braids NameOrigin Of Braids
CornrowsWest coast of Africa
Box BraidsSouth Africa
French BraidsGreek or North Africa
Bubble BraidsN/A
Fulani BraidsWest Africa
Milkmaid BraidsSwitzerland, Greece, or Germany
Dutch BraidsSouth Africa
Ghana BraidsAfrica
Bantu KnotsSouthern West Africa
Pigtail BraidsNative Americans
Crown BraidEurope
Staircase BraidChina

Respect Our Roots: What Is The Backstory Of Hair braided styles?

Hair braided styles first occurred in Africa during the time of 3000 BC. But thousands of years later, we can still see the modern world walking forward holding the hands of braided hairstyles.

To both African men and women, braids aren’t just a hairstyle but also an integral part of making African tribes stand out in the crowd of different tribes.

They work as a way to distinguish their age, marital status, social ranking, wealth, religious beliefs and from which tribe a person belongs. In fact, braids are also widely used as a way of communication in some regions of Africa.

In modern times, African American women are doing their best to preserve the ancestral tradition of wearing braided styles. Here’s a brief history of braids of different hairstyles:


cornrows braids

Cornrow braided hair came from 3000 BC and was mostly worn by African kings and warriors to signify their social status. This technique is still worn by many West African women and younger children to this day.

Classic cornrows’ neat and tight style can be worn with or without any coral, cowrie shells, beads, twigs, or even family’s silver coins.

Box Braids

box braid hair style

This braided hair originated back in 3500 BC in South Africa, and the box braid is pretty similar to the chin-length bob braids or Eembuvi braids of Namibia. 

Box braids then and now took more than 8 hours to make as it deals with numerous hair strands. Many people believe that if a woman wears box braids, it means that she is a wealthy woman.

If you’re planning on swimming with your box braids, be sure to use a swim cap to protect your hair. Braids can absorb a lot of water, which can cause them to loosen and come out.

French Braids

French Braids

The French braid is a classic hairstyle that has been around for centuries. It is a simple yet elegant way to style your hair, and it can be done with wet or dry hair.

First, the French braid didn’t originate in France! Africans and Greeks were the first people to use this twisting technique. The first thought about French braids comes from the 6000-year-old rock art on Mount Tassili n’Ajjer in Algeria, where women put on this style.

Bubble Braids

Bubble Braids

The origin of bubble braids is unknown. Some sources assert that the concept of this fashion came from popular ponytail braid hairstyles in 1980.

Bubble braids have become very popular among Hollywood women celebrities in the last few years, and Ariana Grande probably wore the largest bubble braids ever.

Fulani Braids

Fulani Braids

The Fulani people in West Africa and the Sahel region first came up with this style. This traditional method is still popular for its unique pattern and long braids. Fulani braids are usually very long and heavy, and they are often decorated with beads and other jewelry.

Milkmaid Braids

Milkmaid Braids

Exactly where were milkmaid braids invented from is still unknown. It’s said that back in history, women who milked cows and prepared dairy products used to wear them to keep hair out of their work. Some sources assert that milkmaid braids originated probably in Switzerland, Greece, Australia, or Sweden.

Dutch Braids

Dutch Braids

This style of hair has become a global phenomenon throughout history. Dutch braid was first depicted in South Africa and gradually immigrated to the Netherlands. This technique may look similar to cornrows, but they have differences in strands. Dutch braids can take a bit of time to install, especially if you are doing them on yourself.

Ghana Braids

Ghana Braids

This style originated in Africa, and the earliest depictions of this braid were seen in sculptures and hieroglyphs dating back to 500 BC. This twisting style has played a big role in Ghanaian cultural significance and religious tradition throughout history.

Bantu Knots

Bantu Knots

This style of hair came from the 2nd millennium BCE through 1500 CE. At that time Bantu speaking community was raised for the first time in Southern West Africa. And eventually, Bantu knots spread to Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa.



Most believe that this style was first seen in Jamaica, but dreadlocks were actually depicted in Africa. Back in 2500 BC, Hindu God Shiva in the Vedas was said to have on jaTaa (Dreadlocks in Sanskrit).

Later, when human hair became the indication of marital status and age among the Namibia tribe, if they saw any young woman wearing dreadlocks, they considered that she was ready to get married.

Faux locs are a more modern take on dreadlocks, and are often worn for fashion or aesthetic purposes. The style is said to have originated in the 1970s, when people began to wear fake dreadlocks made from yarn or other materials.

Pigtail Braids

Pigtail Braids

The Native Americans first came up with the pigtail style of hair in the mid-1700. Pigtail method was popular among the sailors and soldiers. 

Crown Braid

Crown Braid

In medieval times, hair was used as a means of communication, and older noblewomen were afraid to wear long-strand braids. Then, European women came up with the idea of these beautiful braids, which looked like bun goddess braids and continued from 1066 to 1485.

Staircase Braid

Staircase Braid

Chinese people first originated the staircase style of hair back in 1644 and continued till 1912. This fashion again regained popularity in 1970 through the Black and Proud movement. To add a unique touch to this braid, you can add a velvet durag for braids. This will give the braid an extra bit of texture and style.


Traditional Mexican braids have been worn by women for centuries, and include many practical styles that were regularly worn in the past. These braids can be cultural appropriation to wear styles that are not traditionally associated with one’s own cultural heritage. It is advisable to stick to styles that are specific to one’s cultural heritage.



Though most of the braids originated in Africa, that doesn’t mean all braiding styles came from there. Some popular braids like staircase braid, crown braids, milkmaid, pigtail, etc., are depicted from different countries.


Yes, Egypt originated some braids too. Though box braids are originally from South Africa, Egyptians also significantly contribute to it. Plus, the school braid, which is the easiest and most popular among all nations, originated in Egypt.


The oldest rock work of a woman about 30000 years ago, which is known as The Venus Of Willendorf, has braids on the woman’s head. Though that intricate braid doesn’t have a name, it’s the oldest twisting style.


Some braids can be a cultural appropriation for Black people. For example, if a white Latina wears box braids, then to black people, it can be considered a cultural misappropriation. Again, anyone can wear french braids, and it’ll never be an example of cultural misappropriation to any ethnic people.


Braiding techniques in the culture of Africa symbolize the cultural context, marital status, wealth, power, religion, age, high priesthood, etc.


Micro braids originated many centuries ago, but in 1990, micro braids became popular. There’s a TV show called Moeshawhere Brandy was micro braids, and after that, it went viral.


Some native American people wear twisting techniques to show honor to their culture and ancestors, and some wear it to protect their natural hair from damage.


In 1600-1500 BCE, dreadlocks were first seen. Dreadlocks actually came from the Minoan Civilization of Greece, which was previously a part of Europe’s earliest civilization. 


Kim Kardashian wears the Fulani braid, and in one of her interviews, she claims that she knows the history of the braid and she totally respects the braid style.


Boxer braids are actually called Poetic Justice Braids, which start from the head and end in the hair ends.


Many people believe that hair weaving originated in Africa. This is because the technique was first documented in African American magazines during the nineteen fifties. Interestingly, the technique was actually invented by Christina Jenkins, who was an African American woman from Louisiana.
Hair weave is a popular hairstyle, but it can also be damaging to natural hair. The weight of the extensions can pull on the hair and cause breakage.


It is believed that braiding originated in many different parts of the world. In Asia, braiding was used as a way to socialize.
The first recorded instance of braids being worn in Asia was by men in China during the early 1900s. The queue hairstyle, which consisted of long braids down the back of the head, was a popular style at this time.

What are black peoples braids called?

Black people commonly refer to the various styles of braids they wear as cornrows, box braids, twists, and plaits, among others.

Did dreadlocks originated in Africa?

Dreadlocks are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt and have been worn by various cultures around the world, including Africa, India, and the Caribbean.

Where did braids originate from Indians?

People in ancient times in India used braided hairstyles, which were prevalent and symbolized different cultural and religious beliefs, thus tracing the origin of braids in India back to ancient times.

What braids did Vikings wear?

Vikings wore various braids, including single and double braids. “Viking braid” was a common style with a single long braid down the back, sometimes accompanied by smaller braids or twists.

When were protective styles invented?

Protective styles, including braids, have been used for centuries in various cultures to protect and manage hair, with historical evidence of their use dating back to ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece.

What race invented box braids?

The concept of box braids, as we know them today, is not attributed to any particular race or culture. Box braids have become a popular hairstyle among people of African descent, but they are not exclusive to African Americans.

What culture originally wore braids?

Braids have been worn by various cultures around the world throughout history, including Africa, India, Egypt, Greece, and many indigenous cultures. The specific cultural significance and styles may vary among different cultures.

Why do Native Americans wrap their braids?

Native Americans may wrap their braids as a cultural tradition or for practical purposes such as protection from the elements. It can also hold spiritual significance for some Native American tribes.

What are black protective hairstyles history?

Protective hairstyles, including braids, have a significant history in black culture as a way to manage and protect natural hair from damage caused by slavery, discrimination, and harsh conditions.

Why are braids African American?

The black community often associates braids with African American culture, as they have historical significance as a form of self-expression, resistance, and pride.

What is the cultural significance of braids?

The cultural significance of braids varies among different cultures, but they can represent cultural identity, heritage, spirituality, social status, and personal expression.

What culture invented braids?

Braiding has a rich history in many ancient cultures, including Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, India, Native American tribes, the Norse culture (Vikings), and various African cultures.

What cultures wear braids?

Braids are worn by various cultures around the world, including Africa, India, Egypt, Greece, Native American tribes, and many indigenous cultures.

What braids are not cultural appropriation?

People generally consider the Basic Three-Strand Braid, French Braid, Dutch Braid, Fishtail Braid, Rope Braid, Waterfall Braid, and Crown Braid as not cultural appropriation, as they are commonly practiced across different cultures without specific cultural associations.

What does braided hair symbolize?

Braided hair can symbolize different things in different cultures, including cultural identity, heritage, spirituality, creativity, and personal expression.

Why are braids called protective style?

Braids are often referred to as a protective style because they help to protect natural hair from damage caused by manipulation, harsh weather, and other environmental factors.

Did Europeans wear braids?

There is evidence of braided hairstyles worn by ancient European civilizations, such as the Celts, as depicted in historical artworks and archaeological findings.

Where did cornrows originate?

Cornrows are believed to have originated in Africa, and they have been worn by various cultures around the world, including Africa, Egypt, and the Caribbean.

What is the history of cornrows braids?

The history of cornrow braids can be traced back to ancient African civilizations, where they were used for practical purposes such as social status, age, and occupation, as well as cultural and artistic expression.

What cultures wear box braids?

Box braids are a popular hairstyle among people of African descent, but they are not exclusive to any specific ethnicity or culture. They have been worn by people of various ethnicities and cultures around the world.

What ethnicity are box braids from?

Box braids are not specifically attributed to Middle Eastern culture, but they have been worn by people of Middle Eastern descent, as well as other cultures, as a form of self-expression and style.

Is braids native american culture?

No, braids are not exclusively native American culture. Braids have been worn by various cultures around the world for centuries, including but not limited to Native American cultures.

Can Hispanic get box braids?

Yes, Hispanic individuals can get box braids. Box braids are a popular hairstyle that can be worn by people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

Are box braids part of Middle Eastern culture?

Box braids are not specifically associated with Middle Eastern culture. Braided hairstyles have been worn by various cultures globally, and the origin of box braids is not limited to one particular culture.

Why did Egyptians wear box braids?

Ancient Egyptians had elaborate grooming practices, including hairstyles and braiding, for aesthetic, functional, and possibly religious reasons. Braiding helped manage hair in the desert environment, conveyed social status, and had symbolic meanings in art, but exact reasons may vary and be limited by historical records.

Are box braids Dominican?

Box braids are not exclusively Dominican. They are a popular hairstyle worn by people of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds around the world.

Are box braids part of Greek culture?

Box braids are not specifically associated with Greek culture. Braided hairstyles have been worn by various cultures globally, and the origin of box braids is not limited to one particular culture.

Why is hair importantck black culture?

Hair is important in black culture for several reasons. It has cultural significance, is often used as a form of self-expression, and carries historical and social significance related to identity, pride, and resilience within the black community.

Did braids originate from Vikings?

The origin of braids is not specifically attributed to Vikings. Braids have been worn by various cultures throughout history, and it is difficult to pinpoint one specific culture as the originator of braids.

Who did braids originate?

Braids originated in Africa, specifically with the Himba people of Namibia.

Did the Celts braid their hair?

Yes, the Celts were known to braid their hair as a common hairstyle. Braiding was a popular practice among the Celts, and it was often used as a way to style and manage their long hair.

What type of braids did Vikings wear?

The type of braids worn by Vikings is often referred to as “Viking braids” or “Norse braids.” These were typically long, intricate braids that were woven into complex patterns and adorned with beads or other decorative elements.

Did Native Americans start braids?

Yes, braiding was a common hairstyle among many Native American cultures. Different tribes and indigenous peoples in North America practiced various forms of hair braiding, often using it for both functional and decorative purposes.

What cultures wore dreadlocks?

Dreadlocks have been worn by various cultures around the world, including but not limited to African, Caribbean, and Indian cultures. It is not exclusive to one particular culture.

Who wore dreadlocks first?

Dreadlocks have been found in ancient Egyptian mummies, indicating that they have been worn for thousands of years.

Who wore cornrows first?

The Venus of Brassempouy and the Venus of Willendorf, which date back 25,000-30,000 years and were found in France and Austria respectively, provide evidence of early humans wearing hairstyles resembling cornrows or braids.

What is the origin of the dreadlocks?

Ancient African cultures are believed to have originated dreadlocks, which were worn for religious, cultural, and social reasons.

Related Articles:

  • How to Maintain and Take Care of Braids
  • Signs Your Protective Style is Really Harming Your Hair
  • Are Weaves Bad For Your Hair


So you now know where do braids come from and a brief history about some braids. If you want to get into the braiding technique and don’t know how to do it, start with the classic technique. Start practicing with your family members, and you’ll eventually learn the intricate techniques.

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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