Dreadlocks History

The naturally knotted hair that forms matted coils of hair is called as dreadlocks. You may frown upon the bad grooming habits of people with natural hair twists, coils and dreadlocks, but in reality, this hairstyle is associated as a symbol of many religions and cultures.

The dreadlocks history dates back to the ancient Egyptian ages. The history of dreadlocks is a bit debatable related to the origins of this form of hairstyle. The dreadlocks culture is associated with the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. However, before becoming popular through the Rastafarian movement, many different cultures sported the dreadlocks. Let's have a look at some of the dreadlocks facts in the following dreadlocks history.


History of Dreadlocks

The legendary Bob Marley is said to have the greatest impact on the popularity charts of the dreadlocks culture. It is a bit difficult to put a finger on the exact place, person or culture associated with the origin of dreadlocks styles. There are different religions and cultures around the world, who have had people sporting the dreadlocks styles. Let us have a look into the dreadlocks history according to the different parts of the world associated with the dreadlocks culture.


North African Origins
The history of dreadlocks can be traced back to North Africa, where many tribes, ethnic groups and cultures have known to sport different dreadlock styles. Even today, you will find the warriors of Kenya wearing long, thin, red dreadlocks. The spiritual men and women or priests are said to wear dreadlocks. The Namib dessert in Namibia, is said to be the oldest dessert in the world. This oldest dessert in the world is home to one of the oldest ethnic group of the Himba people. The Himba women sport a unique dreadlocks style. As the people of Africa moved around the world, they carried the dreadlocks culture along with them. Soon, different cultures started adapting the dreadlocks in association with their own unique culture.

Egyptian Connection
The ancient Egyptian culture is known for its different cultural flavors that was the basis of their traditionally rich society. Looks of an individual was a major issue as it helped distinguish people according to their social status. Egyptians had different hairstyles according to the age, sex and social standings. If you have a look at the bas-reliefs, statuary and related artifacts from ancient Egypt; you will notice that Egyptians wore a locked hairstyles as well as wigs. The mummified Egyptian pharaohs have been discovered wearing locked hair. It is thought, those who wore dreadlocks in Egypt had a strong social standing and were known to hold a powerful position in the society. One dreadlocks facts is that the oldest societies of the world to wear dreadlocks was the ancient Egyptian culture.

Roots within Hinduism
In ancient Indian cultures, Lord Shiva (the Supreme Being), a powerful and most revered deity, is known to wear 'Jataa'. The term 'Jataa' means having 'twisted locks of hair'. The 'Naga Sadhus' or 'Naga baba', are holy people, followers of Lord Shiva. They are practitioners of yoga and have given up the first three Hindu goals of life. These goals include kama or enjoyment, artha meaning practical objective and dharma, that is, duty. They have dedicated their entire life in search of moksha or liberation through meditation and in contemplation of God. These 'Naga sadhus' grow their hair in form of long snake-like matted locks and conserve them to gain the highest manifestation. These dreadlocks styles worn by the sadhus symbolize a special link with the spirit world. These men are known as holy men and wear their dreadlocks in a twisted knot on top of the head. This twisted knot is let down only for a few special occasions on holy days according to the Hindu rituals.

Hebrew Manifestation
The mention of dreadlocks is seen even in the Holy Bible. In Judges, Chapter 16, there is a wide reference to Samson. He was known for his incredible strength that originated from his seven locks. Delihah cut off these seven tresses from his head and thus, Samson lost his strength. Other Bibical characters are also known to wear the dreadlocks. The Biblical Nazarites (priests) had vowed never to cut their hair and it grew naturally. This was a way to please God and give up all the vanities the world had to offer.


Islamic Contributions
A sect of Islam that was indigenous to the Baye Fall, Senegal, Western Africa, founded in 1887 by Shaykh Aamadu Bamba Mbakke are known for their multicolored gowns and dreadlocks. Many Sufis Rafaees, Sufi malangs and fakirs of Pakistan are known to sport different dreadlocks hairstyles. The dreadlocks culture of the Qalandari sect is a part of their lifestyle. The Qalandari sect is a Sufi group of people who do not cut their hair and neither comb it. They allow their hair to grow naturally in form of dreadlocks.

Rastafarianism Reflection
One of the most important dreadlocks facts is that Rastafarian movement helped bring this unique style on the center stage. All the above mentioned cultures related to the history of dreadlocks, helped develop the dreadlocks style in Jamaica. The British empire captured and enslaved half of the world. They bought enslaved people from Africa, India and surrounding areas to the Caribbean Islands. These people included some of the ethnic groups of Africa, holy men from India who wore the dreadlocks. Soon, the dreadlocks became a part of the religious lifestyle in Jamaica. Soon, Rastafarians who were followers of Judeo-Christianity too wore the dreadlocks as a part of their religious lifestyle. The Rastafarians wore it so they could look like the 'Lion of Judah' mentioned in the Bible. They believed many African people were descendents of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. Thus, they were a lost tribe of Judah. Some also believe, the Mau Mau warriors, a large ethnic Kikuyu rebel group in Kenya inspired the dreadlocks among the Rastafari. The Mau Mau fought a war to overthrow the the British Colony and Protectorate of Kenya in 1952-1960. The members of the tribe hid in the forests for many years and their hair grew matted into locks. This rebellious look was broadcast around the world. Thus, inspiring the Jamaican Rastafari to wear dreadlocks styles.


These were some of the dreadlocks facts that help us learn a bit about the dreadlocks history. Reggae music popularity in the mainstream Western world in 1970's helped dreadlocks become a fashion statement. Soon, the Rasta style was in vogue and became a part of the New Age travelers and hippie lifestyle. Dreadlocks symbolized rejection of mass merchandising culture and a sign of rebellion. As it is was difficult to grow hair in form of dreadlocks, people started trying out backcombing sections of hair, twisting and weaving hair with a crochet hook to form knots. Since the ancient Egyptian ages to the early 1950's, dreadlocks culture has come a long way. Hope the above information on dreadlocks history has helped you unlock the past times related to this popular hairstyle today.
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