Shaping Cornrow or Dreadlocks

By Yvonne Samuel Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

Shaping Cornrow or Dreadlocks


Yvonne Samuel Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


WHEN Africans arrived in America on slave ships, whites considered their hair ugly and unnatural.

Those negative images, accepted by many blacks, persisted well into the 20th century and African-Americans tried a myriad of remedies to address the "nappy" condition of their hair.

They used pomades and straightening combs, and in the early 1940s lye-based chemical processors were sold as a solution to "the problem."

In the '60s, the militant black movement prompted black women and men to go natural and adopt the Afro. Soon the stereotype was soon turned on its head, with many whites getting permanents to add nap or kink to their hair.

Now there are hundreds of braid hairstyles throughout America that reflect African-American heritage in some way. Two of the most popular forms:

Cornrowing: - A hairstyle in an intricate pattern of tight braids close to the scalp, separated by parts. It takes an underhand braiding motion; a french roll is a cornrow in reverse.

How it's done: Shampoo hair. Then, oil and brush it. The hair is interwoven flat on the surface of the scalp until it feels excessively tight. The tighter it is, the better it looks. If the hair is short, synthetic or human hair pieces are added. The diverse styles carry the names of famous African queens and African-Americans.

History: There are many styles of cornrows and no one style is the same. In Nigeria, cornrowing is a spiritual and ritualistic art. …

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