We all know that braided hair methods are nowhere new. Then who invented braids? Where is the true origin of braids? Generally, braids are depicted from several cultures. But it’s been said that African women were the first to wear braids.
The braided method was first discovered in 2500 BC when the Hindu God Shiva in the Vedas was asked to wear deadlocks (JaTaa in Sanskriti). However, the history of braids isn’t centered around a single location.
Read along to know more about which ethnicity created braids, what braids mean to an African woman, and how to start a simple braid.
The History Of Braids
Africans were the first to wear braids, but braids have different histories depending on the culture. The beauty of braided hair attracts people from around the world.
Many cultures have tried to take credit for creating braids, but no one can claim that braids belong to them. Here’s a brief history of braids from various cultures:
1. History Of African Braids
Braid holds an extreme cultural significance to the people of African countries. Multiple braided hairstyles were first seen in the ancient times of African culture.
For instance, the dreadlock braided style was first spotted on Egyptian mummies. On the other hand, box braids were first found in 3500 BC, when the braid was an indication of power and wealth.
Again, Fulani braids were first worn by people in the Sahel region in West Africa. During the Sahara region of Africa, cornrow braids were first introduced. By wearing braided hairstyles, Africans tried to display their:
- Tribe affiliation
- Marital status
- Society position
- Message carrier
2. History Of South And North American Braids
Many Native Americans wore braids to represent the unity of thought. They notice a symbolic power and strength in the method of braiding hair, like how individual strands of hair were combined and held together by a braid.
Even North American warriors used a scalp lock braiding method which is known as Mohawk in today’s generation. This braiding method required them to shave their head except for a small turf at their crown.
Then they braided the remaining hair following the dreadlock or french braiding method. By putting their hair into braids, warriors represented their unity and strength.
Eventually, other braided patterns like ghana braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows were introduced to America through the African American culture.
3. History Of European Braids
During the medieval European period, it was socially unacceptable for young woman to keep their hair open outside the house. Modest fashion in public was welcome in most European societies. Hence, European women wore thick braids pinned to their heads to look refined; thus, the braids were introduced in Europe.
People of aristocratic society opted for complex braided styles. At the same time, simple single or double plaits were most common among lower-class men and women.
During Grecco-Roman times, they used beeswax for their intricate braids. Some people even dyed their braids using henna or ash for an attractive appearance.
4. History Of Asian Braids
Long hair is a symbol of beauty in Asian countries. Hence, braids and buns are the most common and widely used styles among Asian women to keep their hair tied.
A single Dutch or French braid is the most famous braiding style in Southeast Asian countries. In ancient China, young girls under 15 used to put on non-intricated braids. And when they crossed their 15th birthday, they used to transform their hair and secure their braids with ceremonial hairpins.
Again, in some Asian countries, people usually use braids for their everyday hairstyles or on special occasions.
When Were Braids Invented?
There is no official year or date that can tell us exactly when braids were first invented. But the first trace of the braids was found 5000 years ago in African cultures, around 3500 BCE.
Again, an artifact known as the Venus of Willendorf was found in Australia that was made during the Paleolithic period (about 2800 to 2500 BC). This artifact shows a woman wearing braids, so it can be assumed that braids were first invented thousands of years ago.
Who First Had Braids?
Just like there was no official date when braids were first invented, similarly, it’s also tricky to say who first had braids. But it’s been said that the Himba people of Nambia in Africa first wore braids.
What Were Braids Originally Called?
Braids are known by numerous names depending on the culture and country. The complex pattern or structure of braids is also called plaiting, lacing, and interlacing.
What Ethnicity Created Braids?
African ethnicity was the first people to create braids. They used to put on intricate braiding methods to show their wealth, power, social status, religion, etc. A black girl of African descent used to decorate their braids with tassels, cowrie shells, beads, and even the family’s silver coins.
What Do Braids Mean In Black Culture?
In ancient Africa, hair was an integral part of defining where a person belonged and who they were. Therefore, the braid isn’t just a hairstyle for African men and women.
Many African tribes used braid patterns to indicate a person’s age, marital status, wealth, tribes, religion, social rank, and power.
Again, during the slavery time in Colombia, black used to create braids to relay their messages. The messages could vary depending on the braiding pattern.
where do tribal braids come from
For example, different tribes would use different patterns of braids to indicate which routes were safe to take and which ones should be avoided.
Braiding hair also has a rich cultural significance in a variety of tribes and cultures in Africa. In some cases, braided hairstyles can indicate a person’s social status or tribe affiliation. Braids are also seen as being very practical, as they can help keep hair out of the eyes and face while working or participating in activities.
Overall, braids are an important part of many cultures and have a long history dating back centuries. They are practical, stylish, and often hold deep meaning for those who wear them.
How To Start A Braid?
Braiding hairstyle is generally a social art. In this generation, there are multiple braiding patterns to choose from. Some braiding patterns come under protective styles, and some are day-to-day hairstyles.
You’re required to have synthetic or human hair extensions and other essential tools for putting your hair braided into a protective style. For instance, ghana braids, goddess braids, or cornrows are known as protective styles.
In contrast, some braiding methods will only require you a comb, hair band, and some pins.
If you’re new to the braiding hairstyle, start with the easiest braiding pattern. Classic braid is the most common and simple three-strand braiding method. Here is how to start the process:
- Start with detangling your hair.
- Now divide your natural hair into three even sections.
- Cross the right section over the middle section. Then cross the left section over the new middle section, which was previously the right section.
- Again cross the new right section over the new middle section, which was previously the left section.
- Continue the process till your reach your desired end.
- Secure the braid with an elastic hair band or scrunchie.
european braids vs african braids
Braids have been worn for centuries by people all over the world, and each culture has its own unique history and tradition of braiding.
African braids are often more intricate and ornate than European braids. African braids are often used to indicate a person’s social and marital status, wealth, and age. Braids are a way to protect fragile strands and are a practical way to keep long hair from getting in the way.
European braids tend to be simpler in design than African braids. They are often used as an everyday hairstyle, or as a way to keep hair out of the face while doing activities such as cooking or cleaning. European braiding traditions date back to the Roman Empire, when women would wear their hair in complex styles that were often decorated with jewels or flowers.
can north African wear braids
In Africa, braids were worn for a variety of reasons, including for beauty and intelligence. Braids could also be used to reflect an African cultural identity. Today, braids are still worn by many people as a way to express their cultural heritage. Celebrities such as Beyonce and Solange Knowles have often been seen sporting African-inspired braids, helping to keep this tradition alive.
Did ancient Mexicans Wear Braids?
Ancient Mexicans wore braids in a variety of styles. The most popular style was the raveled braid, which was worn by elite women. Poor women would often wear their hair in simple, unravelled braids.
What is the meaning of the term “Bantu?”
The term “Bantu” refers to a large group of African ethnic groups. The word was first used in the 1920s by liberal South African missionaries. During World War II, the National Party governments adopted the term to refer to all black Africans. The term is now used interchangeably with “black.”
So, the people of Africa are the answer to the question of who invented braids. Wearing popular braids like box, cornrows, or dreadlocks from professionals need some extra cost. But you can try a simple braided hairstyle on younger children or elderly women to eventually learn the art of braids.