History of dreadlocks
Dreadlocks, also called locks, a ras, dreads, or Jata (Hindi), are matted coils of hair. Dreadlocks are usually intentionally formed; because of the variety of different hair textures, various methods are used to encourage the formation of locks such as backcombing. If the hair is not brushed or cut, it will tangle together as it grows, eventually resulting in the twisted, matted ropes of hair known as dreadlocks.
Dreadlocks are associated most closely with the Rastafari movement, but people from many groups in history before them have worn dreadlocks, including many Sadhus of India and the Sufi Rafaees, the Maori people of New Zealand, the Maasai of East Africa, and the Sufi malangs and fakirs of Pakistan.
The first known examples of dreadlocks date back to East Africa and some parts of North Africa. Masai men found in the regions of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya have been wearing dreadlocks for as long as they have survived. There hasn’t been official date of the “start” of Maasai dreadlocks, but it is a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years. Even today, Masai men can be found easily donning their dreadlocks, with a tint of red color from the soil.
Ancient Egypt In ancient dynastic Egypt examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with locks, as well as locked wigs, have also been recovered from archaeological sites.
The Hindu deity Shiva and his followers were described in the scriptures as wearing “jaTaa”, meaning “twisted locks of hair”, probably derived from the Dravidian word “Sadai”, which means to twist or to wrap. The Greeks, the Pacific Ocean peoples, the Naga people and several ascetic groups within various major religions have at times worn their hair in locks, including the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Nazirites of Judaism, Qalandari Sufi’s the Sadhus of Hinduism, and the Dervishes of Islam among others.
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.
In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a sect of Islam indigenous to the country which was founded in 1887 by Shaykh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing locks and wearing multi-colored gowns.
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