Rolling with the History of the Cornrow Braid

It doesn’t take a visit to Negril, Jamaica to see men, women, and children wearing cornrow braids as their hairstyle of choice. This is definitely a welcome style as the season of heat and humidity has hit the streets of America. I couldn’t help but wonder where this complicated (for me) hairstyle came from and when.

If you are not familiar with this hairstyle, it is actually known as “hair grooming”. These braids are woven very close to the head with an under and over stitch which result in a raised row. While these braids are most often seen in straight lines, they can also appear in circles and unique designs.

This hairstyle is at times decorated with colorful beads and most often seen in Africa and the Caribbean. The history of this hairstyle for women is depicted in pictures dating back to 3000 B.C. Men came to wear conrows in the 19th century in Western Africa and represented elite status in that it was worn by warriors and kings.

Not only is this hairstyle very attractive, it serves as a very practical way to “go with the flow” of the natural hair texture of African Americans. This is especially beautiful, as it shows other cultures the beauty of staying close to your roots (literally and figuratively). When going against th grain of certain hair textures, this is often costly and painful. My own naturally curly hair has a beauty of its own. I won’t even tell you how much money I spent trying to fight that! I am curly, hear me roll!

Have you ever had a conrow hairstyle? If you were visting the Caribbean, would you get one done?

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