By Femi Ogunbambo
There is an adage that says ‘A woman’s hair is the charm of her beauty, pride and dignity’.
Hair is also said to be a sort of power of sexual attraction that a woman possess.
In our society today, a lot of our ladies give great care and attention to the appearance of their hair. Hairstyles are not only for beautification. In some cultures and traditions, the hair can serve other purposes such as religious attributes, show of political power, marital status, mood of the woman and even as an age indicator.
In fact, you can almost guess a woman’s age from her hair. Pretty exciting right?
In most parts of Nigeria, especially in the typical traditional era and even till this day, the outlook of a woman’s hair can tell a lot about her person.
There are even references in the Holy Book that gives adornment to a woman’s hair. 1 Corinthians 11: 15 quotes that ‘But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given her for a covering’
Hallelujah somebody!!! We took it to church. Nice one Femi. I think I deserve some cookie for that.
Now to the fun part, during the course of the next amazing weeks to come, we will be highlighting few hair styles from various cultures and tribes in Africa.
This week we will take an in-depth look at the Yoruba Culture’s various wonderful and magnificent hairstyles that our beautiful women of the past era and even till date debut.
We will be focusing on the history and origin of 10 particular Hairstyles.
The meaning of SUKU is basket in Yoruba. This is a simple hairstyle to make and it is also one the most popular in Nigeria. SUKU is basically a braided hairstyle in which hair runs from the forehead to the nape of the neck. At a time in history, it was only the ‘Yeye Oba’ (Wives of the King) that could make SUKU. These days anyone can adorn the style.
AGOGO in Yoruba literally means ‘Pile up’. This hairstyle was famous especially among the married Yoruba women. AGOGO is regarded as the traditional Yoruba bridal hairstyle. The hairstyle was adorned by the bride-to-be a night before her wedding. It was believed to be a good luck charm to the married couple.
- KOROBA ADIMOLE
This hairstyle was very prominent in the days of the historical Oyo empire. In this style, all the hair is woven from the centre of the head all the way down in a manner that some face front while others are backwards with the tips formed into knots.
DADA is a very popular hairstyle especially in this modern era. The style is when a person leaves the hair to grow out and form dreadlocks. Babies born with naturally dense, curly and matted hair are called DADA in Yorubaland and the hair, which is considered a gift from the gods is left to grow longer. These kids are usually conspicuous among their peers. This is one of the oldest hairstyles among the Yoruba, dating back thousands of years. Many people think that dreadlocks are dirty and are not washed but the fact is that keeping locks demands a tasking level of hair hygiene.
- IFE BRONZE
This hairstyle originated in the year 1973. The hairstyle was inspired by the second all African games that was hosted by Nigeria in Lagos. The images of an IFE BRONZE sculpture was printed on the nylons bags that were used as souvenirs. Yoruba women copied the king’s crown shown in the image and formed an exaggerated style with it, adding a vertical projection to the crown, this was called Second All African Games or simply All African Games.
This is the hairstyle used by the worshippers of ESU. It is shaped like a pig tail left to grow at the center or front of the scalp. The pigtail (called ERE) can also be referred to as an OSU. This appears on the staff of ESU worshippers.
- IPAKO ELEDE
IPAKO ELEDE refers to the occiput of a pig. In IPAKO ELEDE, the styling starts from the back but everything eventually end at the front. When scaling the braids, the non-linear contours of the head are followed. There is a main middle model that the ONIDIRI (hair dresser) follows by repeating the units in an amazing form of fractal geometry. ONSESOO is the person on whose head the style is being made. And because the head is believed to be the seat of the soul, ONSESOO is forbidden to price the amount charged while the ONIDIRI is expected to shun food while working.
This hairstyle originated from the ancient Oyo Empire. The wonderful ‘Yeye Oba’ (Wife of the King) was Queen Moremi Ajasoro of Ile Ife. The MOREMI hairstyle was named after her as a sign of respect and also to show gratitude for her wonderful work she did in her time.
PANUMO literally means ‘Keep Shut’ in Yoruba. The style starts from two different points, one from the forehead and one from the back. The two meet at the centre of the head leaving a little hole. This hairstyle is mostly been adorned by the little girls and teenagers. The hairstyle can also be said to be done by brave and courageous women. The leader of the market women in the olden days also known as ‘iya oloja’ used to adorn this lovely hairstyle.
This particular style is one that is also done by the Yoruba men. It features three particles of hair in the front, middle and at the back making a total of nine knots. ASSO WAPARO is reserved for the princes and sons of the wealthy and influential in the Yoruba Kingdom.