Where do cornrow braids come from?
While many people think that cornrow braids first showed up during the US Civil Rights movement, that isn’t true. They go back further. They go all the way back to ancient Africa and Egypt.
There are statues found in Africa that had cornrows and there were braids carved into the back of the head of the Sphinx. The people of Africa continue to wear cornrows. During the slave years cornrows were bright to America.
Often slaves’ heads were shaved, but when they had hair they started wearing the braids as quiet rebellion. Slaves who worked in the house had to keep their hair neat, and the braids were one way to do that.
Another aspect of cornrow braids is the sense of community that they bring. Mother and children would sit down together for the ritual of brushing, oiling and braiding. Extended family members could be there, doing the same of their children, as well as neighbors, sharing talk and relaxing in each others’ company.
In the US during the Civil Rights movement wearing the braids was ween as reclaiming and being proud of an African heritage. Hip hop has made cornrow braids very popular among a segment of population that might not otherwise wear them.
You can read more on the general history of cornrows here.