August 24, 2014 Leave a comment
Would you ROCK a Tribal Hairstyle?
Not many people can rock a bona fide African Tribal hairstyle. Working women need hairstyles which are easy to manage, maintain, and are not too heavy on the wallet. Lately however I’ve noticed a comeback (resurgence if you will) of natural hairstyles with the afrocentric look, driven in part by the definition of beauty that has become more inclusive and puts a premium on confidence, uniqueness, health, and color. The other driver to this is the willingness of African American women to quietly embrace their afrocentric origins, a non-quiet rebellion against the societal norms of styles based on long, straight hair.
Let’s start with the basic minimum/maximum look, with the minimum look gaining ground on the heels of the award winning performance of Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (2013) .
Very few women are daring enough to pull off either extreme.
The prize for the most visually stunning goes to versions stemming from the 1800’s to the early 20th century Igbo style.
In African Tribal art this hairstyle is represented by the Agbogho mmwo , or “maiden spirit,” masks worn by men at festivals that honor important deities. They represent the Igbo ideal of female beauty: small, balanced features, elaborate hairstyles, and delicate tattoos.
One of the fascinating aspects of the many variations currently in fashion is the wide options of micro-braid styles available to be used. I think this will grow in popularity in coming years.
“The top of every Sowo mask is carved to represent braided hair, and the style of hair braiding is one of the mask’s most individualized features. The hair crest always displays axial symmetry around the facial vertical line… the mask’s hairstyle is always grander and more distinctive”
A variation of a Baule style that has a large following is the Bantu knot-out (aka China Bump)
One lesser known style was very popular among the Luba tribe and reflected in many different forms of Luba sculpture.
There are too many African tribes with identifiable hairstyles to mention (Mangbetu, Kuba). It is a fascinating aspect of Collecting African Tribal Art which can assist in learning one’s history and provide clues to cultural norms and values.
 Radiance from the Waters; Sylvia Ardyn Boone, p.184
[E4] Among the Ibos of Nigeria; Basden, G.T. 1921; p288/289