Braids are without doubt one of today’s classiest and most chic hairstyles. You’d be forgiven for thinking that braids are a modern invention, but the history of this classic look actually goes back thousands of years. With that said, let’s check out some of the most prominent moments in the history of braids.
African braids and cornrows
We can start this hair history lesson thousands of years ago with traditional African tribes. It’s believed that in early (and even more modern) times, African braid styles such as cornrows represented a number of different cultural traits, including religion, age and wealth. They’ve stood the test of time and are regularly seen at red carpet events and other celebrity occasions.
Vikings and Celts
Let’s now go back over 1,000 years to Viking times and even further to the ancient Celts, where braids have often been depicted as a staple hair choice for both men and women. Women tended to wear theirs long in Celtic times, and the upper echelons of society adorned their braids with ribbons and metal ornaments. The lower classes used braids in a more practical manner, simply to keep their long locks from falling into their eyes. The prevalence of braids in these ages can often be seen in Hollywood movies like “Braveheart” and in historically inspired TV shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Vikings”.
This is another highly significant period of history and one where braids were commonly seen. Depictions of Cleopatra, both historically and in movies, always show her with tight mini braids, but she wasn’t the only one. As with the Vikings and Celts, both men and women wore their hair in variations of this style. It wasn’t just a fashion statement in Egyptian times either; wearing hair in braids would have provided a level of cooling when in the blazing desert sun.
Often referred to as French plaits, these classic braids have been traced back some 6,000 years and are still very popular today. Their early references include cave paintings in the Algerian Mountains and a later nod to the hairstyle in Greek and Sung dynasty times. Classic and still ultra stylish, French braids have spawned a number of variations over the past couple of hundred years and these include:
- Dutch braid. The Dutch braid has also been known as a pineapple or inverted French braid. In fact, there are a number of variations, all based around and playing on the classic style. Try out this Dutch braid tutorial if you fancy giving it a go.
- Fishtail braid. This one has also been referred to as the Grecian braid. It’s believed to originate in the 19th century and has a smoothly woven appearance.
There are so many braided styles inspired by hundreds and thousands of years of history that are still very much en vogue today. From cornrows to Dutch braids and all the other styles, braids have been around for centuries and are very much here to stay!
Do you have a favourite type of braid?