Headwraps In History

"I wear a headwrap because a headwrap is a crown, and I am a queen." [-Erykah Badu] 

Headwraps have been a thing since the early 1700s within African culture. African women used headwraps as a way of head adornment.  The headwraps were a way to determine the age, marital status, and prosperity of the woman wearing them.

I honestly wear a Headwrap for those times when my crown needs some adjusting (aka my hair is jacked up.) I got into wearing Headwraps soon after having my son. The postpartum shedding was way too real and I couldn’t bare for anyone to see just how far back my edges had gotten pushed. Now that my edges have been recovered, I wear headwraps for fun. And besides the fun aspect, I always look put together or like I at least tried when I throw on a head wrap or turban style. If you're a mama you can maybe relate to how raggedy you may look or feel after wrestling the little ones and getting them out the door.

During the period of slavery in America, the whites had certain legal codes of conduct which included headwraps being worn by slave women to cover their hair, to serve the purpose of absorbing perspiration, preventing infestation of lice, and to keep the hair clean from dirt during agricultural activities. 

A group of slaves wearing head wraps in St. Augustine, Florida, circa 1850. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The Negro Act of 1735 was passed in South Carolina making it illegal for slaves to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise their own food, earn money, and learn to read English.  This act also provided stipulations on the type of clothing black people were allowed to wear, outlawing anything more extravagant than “Negro cloth.”  

Louisiana passed the “Edict of Good Government,” aka the “Tignon Law” in 1786 which required black women to wear their hair “bound in a kerchief” or a “tignon.” Tignon is a New Orleans word for headwrap. It’s a variation of the French word, chignon. Chignon means a smooth knot or twist or arrangement of hair that is worn at the nape of the neck.  Even with these laws in place, black women wore they're headwraps and found a way to make them fashionable. Though their hair was covered, they adorned the headwraps with brooches, jewels, feathers and whatever else they could find to add a lil razzle dazzle to their fits. 

Photograph by Juliana Kasumu source: https://musicalbridges.org/from-moussor-to-tignon-the-evolution-of-the-head-tie/

So basically, black women were out here naturally stuntin and being the fly ass trendsetters we’ve always been and the white men were enamored and wanted a lil taste. So much so that the state government noticed and enacted laws to try to discourage white men from pursing black women. Well that backfired and black woman found a way to jazz up the Headwraps that they required to wear by law and still flexed on lawmakers even with all odds against them. 

Porsha From the real housewives of Atlanta

Nowadays in black American culture, Headwraps are still a staple peice worn by women and men for any number of reasons including fashion and protective styling. Headwraps have a way of bringing out natural beauty and paying homage to the regality all black people possess. Celebrity icons like Beyoncé and her sisters Solangé & Kelly Rowland (Destiny's Child for life), Eva Pigford, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, and Jada Pinkett Smith have all been pictured wearing Head wraps and turban styles. For that reason alone, some regular degulars who may not have ever dabbled in Headwraps have become fond of them too.

Beyonce in a head wrap via https://www.essence.com/hair/beyonce-headwrap/






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