Who Invented Box Braids

Box braids, commonly worn by people of African descent, are nothing but boxy cornrows. Interestingly, people from all cultural backgrounds wear box braids. Although braid styles are predominantly derived from African cultures, they are being embraced by everyone.

Braided hairstyles have evolved a lot since their inception. Why won’t they, as their roots are drawn from as long as 3,000 years ago. Box braids are not a particular hairstyle, they can be styled in many different ways.

The history of box braids  

Who Invented Box Braids

In the simplest of words, box braids are your natural hair intertwined with each other to form cornrows. As mentioned earlier, people from African culture, or black women to be more specific, used to wear box braids.  

In primitive African culture, wearing box braids meant a show of strength and wealth. Hair braiding was not just a hairstyle. Black women of that time who were able to afford and manage box braids were considered rich and powerful. 

Box braids on natural hair/human hair

Braids grow naturally in some people. The nature of their hair, the texture, growing pattern, everything in many cases grows out to braids. This phenomenon was also mainly found in the African region. 

When were box braids invented? 

Box braids were invented in 3500 BC. Properly braided hair polished a woman’s identity as upper class in the African tribes. It was a traditional hairstyle that represented poshness during that time.   

Who first had box braids?  

Who first had box braids

Ancient Africa, covering the regions of north Africa, west Africa, and ancient Egypt began the trend of braid patterns on the long hair of young girls. The trend later spread out to all the African countries.

Girls of African communities after marriage wore braids to represent their marital status. Once they got married, they were considered to be grown-up. Since the society was much more patriarchal at that time than it is today, they did not have much of a choice but to abide by these cultural impositions. Later it emerged as a voluntary style. 

What were box braids originally called?

box braids originally called

Box braids were initially termed eembuvi braids or chin length bob braids. A box braid was not easy to create with original hair during that time. Pulling the style off represented the virtue of black girls.

Braiding has now brought various cultures together. Thousands of years ago when the style came into force, it was only limited to black women. In modern times, it evolved into an African American culture.  

What Ethnicity Created Braids?

Box braids do have a rich history, but that’s also quite regressive. All those years ago, only a black girl suited the hairstyle. But now with the help of cultural appropriation, both men and women do the style with honor. But the style is still more popular among African Americans. 

Braids were one of the key aspects of a black person’s tribe and identity. They didn’t consider braids as a style, but they could do it better than today on their own hair.

No particular ethnicity, in general, draws the origin of hair braided styles. However, women from black communities donned it the most and spread it out to everyone.     

What Do Braids Mean In Black Culture? 

Braids Mean In Black Culture

Braids have a huge connection with a person’s age in black culture, especially among women. When girls turned sixteen, thick and long cornrows were created on their hair. This marked their transition in life from being girls to women. 

In fact, the first natural hair movement of the 1960s also represents this thought. They embrace a braided style to celebrate the way they are. Earlier women eluding to get their hair braided had to undergo the ire of other sections of society. Yet they felt it empowered them.    

This also aligned with the black power movement. But it truly hit the deck during the 90s and early 2000s after the widespread popularity of poetic justice by Janet Jackson. Even Janet did not know her work would reach out so much. 

Braids allowed black people to break the shackles of eurocentric beauty standards. 

How to start a braid?

How to start a braid

Braids are one of the hot cake styles right now, everyone wants to explore it. But to do so, you need to spend hours adorning it with both precision, as well as hard work. 

Human hair is much more sensitive than we think. Do not get carried away by the promotional images you see on the internet. 

Before getting on with any process, women need to first discover the exact style they are looking for.

There are a lot of options out there, and also different preparation and maintenance practices. So having a clear understanding is key. For example, there are options like a protective style like goddess braids, jumbo braids with cowrie shells, or ghana braids, fulani braids, or a high ponytail.  

And remember, taking care of just hair is not enough to build up to braids. You need to equal care of your scalp as well. You can follow your favorite celebrity hairstylist for the right tips to take care of your head. 

Pro tip: Do not go for styles like bantu knots in the very beginning. Doing so can have disastrous consequences. 

Focus on improving the moisture and strength of your hair from the roots. Only then will your head be eligible to withstand the pressure of braids. This is the best way to begin the process of braided hairstyles. 


What culture wore braids first?

Women of the black culture of the African region wore braids on their hair first, to impress their high priesthood. But it is not this restricted anymore, everyone is wearing them now. Africans have a few societal connections with the style as well.  

Can anyone wear braids? 

Yes, anyone can wear them. Only their specific condition can restrict to do so. They can also opt for braided extensions made of durable materials. Even human hair does not perform as well as extensions. 

Can anyone wear box braids?

Meeting the conditional requirements is necessary. Considering you manage to pull it off, you can wear fiber skull caps to keep them protected from external vulnerabilities. 

How braids helped rebels to rebel against Europeancentric beauty standards.

The black power movement of the 1960s helped to popularize braids as a form of rebellion against European-centric beauty standards. During the Harlem Renaissance, black artists and intellectuals celebrated their African heritage and helped to redefine what it meant to be beautiful. Braids were seen as a symbol of pride and beauty, and they continue to be popular today.

Why are braids an important part of Mexican culture?

Braids have been an important part of Mexican culture for centuries. One of the main reasons is the subtropical climate of Mexico, which is perfect for growing thick, luscious hair. Additionally, Mexican women have always taken pride in their hair and use braids as a way to show off their beauty and style.

What are the superstition surrounding the traditional Thai braids?

There are a few superstitions surrounding traditional Thai braids. One is that it is bad luck to cut your hair on a Wednesday. It is also believed that the braids help ward off evil spirits.

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  • What Gel To Use For Box Braids
  • What To Do After Taking Out Box Braids From Your Head


You will most probably not have access to a Chicago based cosmetologist to give you that celebrity looks. You will have to manage everything by yourself. Box braids look great, but they will test your patience and dedication. Be ready for it because you might have to pay the cost of losing the beauty of your hair. 

And to answer the question, there is not much to debate about the fact that Africans invented box braids. They invented it, but it’s owned by everyone today. The history behind it is long and complicated, but what matters more is its widespread acceptability today. Everyone likes the style as it carries a strong message of prowess.

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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