Dreadlocks, also known as locs or dreads, are rope-like strands of hair formed by matting or braiding hair.[2]

Cree chief Pitikwahanapiwiyin with locked hair, 1885
Two sadhus (ascetic monks) with their hair in traditional jaṭā style[1]

Origins Edit

Young boxers with long dreadlocks depicted on a fresco from Akrotiri (modern Santorini, Greece) 1600–1500 BCE[3][4][5]

Some of the earliest known possible depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 1600–1500 BCE in the Minoan Civilization, centred in Crete (now part of Greece).[4] Frescoes discovered on the Aegean island of Thera (modern Santorini, Greece) depict individuals with long braided hair or long dreadlocks.[3][4]

In ancient Egypt, examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts.[6] Mummified remains of Egyptians with locked wigs have also been recovered from archaeological sites.[7]

During the Bronze and Iron Ages, many peoples in the Near East, Anatolia, Caucasus, East Mediterranean and North Africa such as the Sumerians, Elamites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Amorites, Hittites, Persians, Canaanites and Ancient Egyptians were depicted in art with braided or plaited hair and beards. However, braids are not dreadlocks, and it is not always possible to tell from these images which are being depicted.[8][9]

Etymology Edit

The history of the name "dreadlocks" is unclear. Some authors trace the term to the Rastafarians, coining it as a reference to their wearing the hairstyle as a sign of their "dread" (or fear) of God.[10] However, Rastafari did not develop in Jamaica until the 1930's. According to Lori L. Tharps, hair historian and coauthor of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, "the modern understanding of dreadlocks is that the British, who were fighting Kenyan warriors (during colonialism in the late 19th century), encountered the warriors' locs and found them 'dreadful', thus coining the term 'dreadlocks'."[11]

History Edit

Over half of surviving Ancient Greek kouroi sculptures (from c. 615–485 BC) are found wearing what may have been dreadlocks.[12]
A Spartan officer depicted with possibly locked hair

In Ancient Greece, kouros sculptures from the archaic period depict men possibly wearing dreadlocks.[12][13]

Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.[14] Bernal Diaz del Castillo records:

here were priests with long robes of black cloth ... The hair of these priests was very long and so matted that it could not be separated or disentangled, and most of them had their ears scarified, and their hair was clotted with blood.

Polish plait, 1734–1766

In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a Sufi movement of Islam founded in 1887 AD by Shaykh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing dreadlocks and wearing multi-colored gowns.[15] Cheikh Ibra Fall, founder of the Baye Fall school of the Mouride Brotherhood, popularized the style by adding a mystic touch to it. Warriors among the Fulani, Wolof and Serer in Mauritania, and Mandinka in Mali were known for centuries to have worn cornrows when young and dreadlocks when old. Larry Wolff in his book Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of Enlightenment[full citation needed] mentions that in Poland, for about a thousand years, some people wore a matted hairstyle similar to that of some Scythians. Zygmunt Gloger in his Encyklopedia staropolska mentions that the Polish plait (plica polonica) hairstyle was worn by some people in the Pinsk region and the Masovia region at the beginning of the 19th century. The Polish plait can vary between one large plait and multiple plaits that resemble dreadlocks.[16]

A drawing of peasants with "Polish plaits"

Dreadlocks are also worn by some Rastafarians, who believe they represent a biblical hair style worn as a symbol of devotion by the Nazirites, as described in Numbers 6:1–21.[17]

By culture Edit

Hippie dreadlocks decorated with beads

Locks have been worn for various reasons in each culture. Their use has also been raised in debates about cultural appropriation.[18] Evidently, dreadlocks are seen in multiple cultures across the world.

Africa Edit

Maasai warriors are known for their long, thin, red dreadlocks, dyed with red root extracts or red ochre.[19]

In Nigeria, dreadlocks are viewed in a negative light due to their stereotypical association with gangs and criminal activity; men with dreadlocks face profiling from Nigerian police.[20]

Australia Edit

Some Indigenous Australians of North West and North Central Australia, as well as the Gold Coast region of Eastern Australia, have historically worn their hair in a locked style, sometimes also having long beards that are fully or partially locked. Traditionally, some wear the dreadlocks loose, while others wrap the dreadlocks around their heads, or bind them at the back of the head.[21] In North Central Australia, the tradition is for the dreadlocks to be greased with fat and coated with red ochre, which assists in their formation.[22]

Buddhism Edit

Within Tibetan Buddhism and other more esoteric forms of Buddhism, locks have occasionally been substituted for the more traditional shaved head. The most recognizable of these groups are known as the Ngagpas of Tibet. For Buddhists of these particular sects and degrees of initiation, their locked hair is not only a symbol of their vows but an embodiment of the particular powers they are sworn to carry.[23] 1.4.15 of the Hevajra Tantra states that the practitioner of particular ceremonies "should arrange his piled up hair" as part of the ceremonial protocol.[24]

Hinduism Edit

The practice of Jaṭā (dreadlocks) is practiced in modern day Hinduism,[25][26][27] most notably by Sadhus who follow Śiva.[28][29] The Kapalikas, first commonly referenced in the 6th century CE, were known to wear Jaṭā[30] as a form of deity imitation of the deva Bhairava-Śiva.[31] Shiva is often depicted with dreadlocks.

Rastafari Edit

Rastafari movement dreadlocks are symbolic of the Lion of Judah, and were inspired by the Nazarites of the Bible.[32] When reggae music, which espoused Rastafarian ideals, gained popularity and mainstream acceptance in the 1970s, thanks to Bob Marley's music and cultural influence, dreadlocks (often called "dreads") became a notable fashion statement worldwide, and have been worn by prominent authors, actors, athletes and rappers.[33][34]

In sports Edit

Dreadlocks have become a popular hairstyle among professional athletes.

In professional American football, the number of players with dreadlocks has increased ever since Al Harris and Ricky Williams first wore the style during the 1990s. In 2012, about 180 National Football League players wore dreadlocks. A significant number of these players are defensive backs, who are less likely to be tackled than offensive players. As per the NFL's rulebook, a player's hair is considered part of their "uniform", meaning the locks are fair game when attempting to bring them down. [35]

In the NBA there has been controversy over the Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American who garnered mild controversy over his choice of dreadlocks. Former NBA player Kenyon Martin accused Lin of appropriating African-American culture in a since-deleted social media post, after which Lin pointed out that Martin has multiple Chinese characters tattooed on his body. [36]

In the US Edit

On 3 July 2019, California became the first US state to prohibit discrimination over natural hair. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the CROWN Act into law, banning employers and schools from discriminating against hairstyles such as dreadlocks, braids, afros, and twists.[37] Likewise, later in 2019, Assembly Bill 07797 became law in New York state; it "prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles".[38]

Fully matured dreadlocks started from the comb twist method
Newly twisted dreadlocks immediately after being unwound from Bantu knots; the dreadlocks later uncoil and may thicken as matting progresses.

Guinness Book of World Records Edit

On 10 December 2010, the Guinness Book of World Records rested its "longest dreadlocks" category after investigation of its first and only female title holder, Asha Mandela, with this official statement:

Following a review of our guidelines for the longest dreadlock, we have taken expert advice and made the decision to rest this category. The reason for this is that it is difficult, and in many cases impossible, to measure the authenticity of the locks due to expert methods employed in the attachment of hair extensions/re-attachment of broken off dreadlocks. Effectively the dreadlock can become an extension and therefore impossible to adjudicate accurately. It is for this reason Guinness World Records has decided to rest the category and will no longer be monitoring the category for longest dreadlock.[39]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion. University of Michigan [Michigan]: Bloomsbury Academic. 2009. ISBN 9781845207922. His jata (dreadlocks) are elegantly styled, and the source of the Ganges issues from his topknot. In the background are the Himalayas where Shiva performs his austerities.
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.). [ ]: Merriam-Webster. 2004. pp. 380. ISBN 9780877798095. dread-lock \'dred-,lak\ n (I960) 1 : a narrow ropelike strand of hair formed by matting or braiding 2 pi : a hairstyle consisting of dreadlocks — dread-locked \-,lakt\ adj
  3. ^ a b Poliakoff, Michael B. (1987). Combat Sports in the Ancient World: Competition, Violence, and Culture. Yale University Press. p. 172. ISBN 9780300063127. The boxing boys on a fresco from Thera (now the Greek island of Santorini), also 1500 B.C.E., are less martial with their jewelry and long braids, and it is hard to imagine that they are engaged in a hazardous
  4. ^ a b c Blencowe, Chris (2013). YRIA: The Guiding Shadow. Sidewalk Editions. p. 36. ISBN 9780992676100. ... Archaeologist Christos Doumas, discoverer of Akrotiri, wrote: "Even though the character of the wall-paintings from Thera is Minoan, ... the boxing children with dreadlocks, and ochre-coloured naked fishermen proudly displaying their abundant hauls of blue and yellow fish.
  5. ^ Bloomer, W. Martin (2015). A Companion to Ancient Education. John Wiley & Sons. p. 31. ISBN 9781119023890. Figure 2.1b Two Minoan boys with distinctive hairstyles, boxing. Fresco from West House, Thera (Santorini), ca. 1600–1500 bce (now in the National Museum, Athens).
  6. ^ "Image of Egyptian with locks". freemaninstitute.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  7. ^ Egyptian Museum -"Return of the Mummy. Archived 2005-12-30 at the Wayback Machine Toronto Life - 2002." Retrieved 01-26-2007.
  8. ^ "The history of hair, hair styles through the ages". Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  9. ^ Gabbara, Princess (2016-10-18). "The History of Dreadlocks". EBONY. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  10. ^ "Twisted Locks of Hair: The Complicated History of Dreadlocks". Esquire. 5 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Why I Don't Refer to My Hair as 'Dreadlocks'". Vogue. 30 March 2023.
  12. ^ a b Steves, Rick (2014). Athens and the Peloponnese. Avalon Travel. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-61238-060-5.
  13. ^ Jenkins, Ian. "Archaic Kouroi in Naucratis: The Case for Cypriot Origin". The American Journal of Cardiology. [JSTOR Arts & Sciences II Collection]: American Journal of Archaeology, v105 n2 (20010401): 168–175. ISSN 0002-9114. The hair in both is filleted into a series of fine dreadlocks, tucked behind the ears and falling on each shoulder and down the back. A narrow fillet passes around the forehead and disappears behind the ears. ... Two are in the British Museum (fig. 17) and another in Boston (fig. 18). These three could have been carved by the same hand. Distinctive points of comparison include the dreadlocks; high, prominent chest without division; sloping shoulders; manner of showing the arms by the side...the torso of a kouros, again in Boston (fig. 19), should probably also be assigned to this group.
  14. ^ Berdán, Frances F. and Rieff Anawalt, Patricia (1997). The Essential Codex Mendoza. London, England: University of California Press. pp 149.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Zeitreisen - Vom Einimpfen und Auskampeln".
  17. ^ "Dreadlocks in History - How Dreadlocks Work". HowStuffWorks. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Students are claiming the white man harassed over his dreadlocks isn't telling the full story". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  19. ^ Fihlani, Pumza (27 February 2013). "South Africa's dreadlock thieves". BBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  20. ^ "'People with locs are seen as miscreants'". BBC News.
  21. ^ Withnell, John G. (1901). The Customs And Traditions Of The Aboriginal Natives Of North Western Australia. ROEBOURNE. p. 14.
  22. ^ Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen (1899). The Native Tribes of North Central Australia. London: Macmillan.
  23. ^ Bogin, Benjamin (2008). "The Dreadlocks Treatise: On Tantric Hairstyles in Tibetan Buddhism". History of Religions. 48 (2): 85–109. doi:10.1086/596567. JSTOR 10.1086/596567. S2CID 162206598.
  24. ^ Snellgrove, David. The Hevajra Tantra: A Critical Study. vol 1. Oxford University Press. 1959.
  25. ^ "Why Some Indian Women Are Terrified of Chopping off Their Dreadlocks, Even Though They Can't Move Their Necks". Vice. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  26. ^ Rattanpal, Divyani (2015-10-06). "Hair and Shanti: What Hair Means to Indians". TheQuint. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  27. ^ "What Sadhus and Sadhvis at Kumbh Told Me About Their Long and Important Dreadlocks". News 18. Retrieved 2021-01-29.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "What Sadhus and Sadhvis at Kumbh Told Me About Their Long and Important Dreadlocks". 3 February 2019.
  29. ^ Hays, Jeffrey. "SADHUS, HINDU HOLY MEN | Facts and Details". factsanddetails.com. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  30. ^ Lorenzen, David (1972). The Kapalikas and kalamukhas: Two Lost Saivite Sects. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 4, 6, 14, 21–23, 41–42, 47. ISBN 0-520-01842-7.
  31. ^ Lorenzen, David (1972). The Kapalikas and kalamukhas: Two Lost Saivite Sects. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 4, 85. ISBN 0-520-01842-7.
  32. ^ "Dare to dread". The Guardian. 2003-08-23. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  33. ^ "19 Celebs Slaying In Beautiful Locs". Essence. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  34. ^ Kuumba, M.; Ajanaku, Femi (1998). "Dreadlocks: The Hair Aesthetics of Cultural Resistance and Collective Identity Formation". Mobilization: An International Quarterly. 3 (2): 227–243. doi:10.17813/maiq.3.2.nn180v12hu74j318.
  35. ^ "Matz: NFL players embracing long hair". ESPN.com. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  36. ^ "Jeremy Lin's dreadlocks have led to all kinds of comments — even Lil B's support".
  37. ^ "California bans racial discrimination based on hair in schools and workplaces". JURIST. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  38. ^ "New York bans discrimination against natural hair". The Hill. 2019-07-13. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  39. ^ "Longest Dreadlock Record – Rested". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05.

References Edit

External links Edit