Mar 06, 2024

Salim Holder

In black culture, Braids are a "protective and creative style women use to show off their personal style, their creativeness or protect their hair and scalp." But centuries prior, believe it or not, braids were much more than just a protective hairstyle.

In many countries, braids are a part of the tribal customs in Africa. The braid patterns often signify the tribe and help to identify the member of the particular tribe. The cultural significance and roots of braiding can be traced back to the African tribes.

Hairstyles have origins from even times of slavery, when women would sit to comb their children’s hair after a backbreaking day of labor. The braids were often used to relay messages between slaves, signal that they were going to escape, or even used to keep gold and seeds to help them survive after they would run away.

Many African women would also braid rice or seeds into their hair before journeying the Middle Passage on their way to enslavement or braided it into their children's hair before separation so they could eat. In the maroon community of Suriname, many women still demonstrate and practice this tradition today.