I still remember the first time I tried a dirty braided hairstyle in a hair salon many years ago. The barber and assistant picked up my hair in bundles and twisted it hard until my scalp hurts from being tightened. After they poured perm on each strand of hair, they wrapped it in tin foil and baked it, and finally “baked” stout “little snakes”. I experienced a strange vitality on my tight scalp. With a “little snake” on my head, I often received curious gazes for several months.
Speaking of it, dirty braids have the name of “braid”, but they are not really. For relatively straight hair to be so “hard to distinguish”, it needs to be twisted deliberately manually.
In the past, this hairstyle mostly appeared on African Americans with curly hair, or on the heads of Indian dervishes who wandered for many years. Jamaica, once a British colony, happened to be at the intersection of African and Indian immigrants, so it became a modern sanctuary for dreadlocks.
Naturally entangled confusion
Today, even people with straight hair can walk into a hair salon and spend a few hours in exchange for a dirty braid, thanks to a female hair stylist in Minneapolis, Sonia Paterson. She personally went to Jamaica and other places to learn art. In the 1990s, she developed the “tinfoil perm” technique of making dirty braids with straight hair. Although this “artificial” hairstyle can only last for a few months, then the “little snake” will follow the hair. The growth of the roots is gradually sluggish.
Chinese women who travel or live in Africa often see the opposite situation, that is, local women are particularly interested in smooth, long straight hair. They occasionally make requests to touch the straight hair of Chinese girls. This phenomenon is not only due to the curiosity and admiration of “curly hair people” for straight hair, but also because they live in the shadow of a certain “straight hair hegemony”-they think that the straighter hair of Caucasian or East Asian people is beautiful. But this is also the reason why many African Americans have recently emerged the trend of “returning to nature”.
From a biological point of view, there are many speculations about how the difference between straight hair and curly hair came about. One theory is that curly hair is more fluffy and easy to dissipate heat, and the larger volume is convenient for blocking the sun, and it is not easy to be stuck to the skin by sweat in summer. Straight hair with strong fit is more suitable for keeping warm in cold climates. Humans in Eurasia are more affected by the climate of cold and temperate regions, so they are suitable for straight hair.
Japanese samurai’s Mediterranean style “Tsuki Daito”
Japanese women’s “Takashimada” hairstyle
Although such a hypothesis seems reasonable, it is not so simple at the genetic level. Genomic studies have shown that there is no single gene that determines hair curl. For the East Asian population, there is a gene called “EDAR” that is particularly influential. Its mutation leads to changes in straight hair, sweat glands, breasts, and teeth. This gene appeared in central China about 30,000 years ago. The main effect on the European population is the “TCHH” gene. The mutations also affect hair curl, placenta and spleen. In addition to the TCHH gene, the genes affecting African curly hair may be more complicated.
Generally speaking, people would think that straight hair is the mainstream in East Asia and Southeast Asia, but the way the hair is processed reflects the difference in the acquired environment. Ancient Mongolian, Khitan, and Jurchen men used to shave most of their hair for the convenience of riding and shooting, leaving only a few hairs tied into small braids on their foreheads, temples or the back of their heads. The Mediterranean “moon head” of Japanese samurai, and even the Cossack hairstyle of Ukraine, are also affected by this pattern. In contrast, the Han farming society dominated by the literati tradition would not have this hairstyle.
The “braid” that is easy to take care of is more suitable for mobile life in the wild, and the “bowl” that is bound and fixed presents a kind of rigorous and delicate.
Braids are convenient for Mongolian men and women on the prairie. Since the Yuan Dynasty forced the promotion of braided hair on the Korean peninsula, it continued to be the gorgeous braid on the heads of women in the costume Korean dramas, and many women also pursued the extra-large and gorgeous wigs, “braided.” This kind of hairstyle system dominated by “braid” also impacted the Han nationality dominated by “updo” in the “shaving order” in the early Qing Dynasty.
Although the traditional women’s hairstyles in China and Japan are “updos”, they are not all the same. In Japanese Kanji, “发髻” is called “髷”. The curvy hair on the back of the plump “Takashimada” hairstyle of the Japanese woman in kimono, and the central hair of the samurai “Tatsushiro” are all tied tightly with a tie, forming a meticulously rounded look, a bit like a helmet . On the other hand, the traditional hair of the Han nationality bun is like a draped cloth, designed to form a specific pattern by circling it, and its logic is more similar to tying a graceful flower knot.
Rwandan traditional hairstyle “Ama Sunzu”
Hair styles faintly reflect the psychological characteristics of the entire culture. The easy-to-care “braid” is more suitable for mobile life in the wild, the restrained “bun” presents a rigorous and delicate, while the flexible “bun” reflects the aesthetics of literati ladies, the huge and gorgeous North Korean “bun” It is the “inward curling mode” of braided hair that is alienated in the deep palace courtyard. These all reflect the state of various social life concretely and slightly.
When a society has the pursuit of hairstyles, the competition for skills will follow. During the Edo period, Japan’s commercial society was developed, and good hairdressers were able to attract women. In the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the men of the Huli tribe spend a lot of attention on hairdressing before they get married, and then a wig artist who is good at magic makes their hair the most exquisite wig, and the desire to dress drives the hairstyle. Fierce competition.
Straight hair has long been admired in many African countries, and wigs or perm is a huge business in Africa.
Hairstyle is politics
If you look closely at the fluffy African curls, you will find that the most extreme natural curls are spiral or densely zigzag. Curly hair aggregates into thick fluff which can be used to shape, or braid frizzy hair into less frizzy braids and use these braids to create patterns. This is the basic trick of African curly hair styling.
Although African-American culture seems to be quite popular all over the world, in fact, straight hair has long been admired in many African countries. Wigs or perm hair is a huge business in Africa. Now this situation is changing. For example, in Sudan, more and more young people no longer accept the “curly hair contempt chain” of European, American and Arab descent, and learn to embrace their natural curly hair.
In recent years, many young people in East Africa and Rwanda have been reviving the traditional hairstyle “Ama Sunzu”. The hair stylist uses thick, thick curly hair to shape the winding peaks on the head-although it is an ancient hairstyle, it has a sense of science fiction. This hairstyle was once suppressed by the Belgian colonial authorities and tended to die out. Now it represents people’s recovery of the cultural heritage that was broken by colonization.
Compared with the “hair colonization” that African Americans feel is the straighter hair of Europeans, what the Native Americans feel is the trauma of long straight hair being cut. Western movies in Hollywood show the classic image of their long hair, but they may not tell the tragedy of their hair being cut. Not long ago, the remains of 215 children were found underground in a former Aboriginal boarding school in Canada, which caused the media to renew attention to how the culture of the Native Americans in North America was destroyed.
Native North American culture generally believes that hair represents vitality and the identity of tribal groups. At that time, the Canadian government forced all aboriginal children to enter boarding schools, and they had to cut their long hair whenever they entered school. This was the first step to eliminate aboriginal culture.
Of course, opposing traditional hairstyles sometimes represents the direction of progress. In China at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, it was a revolutionary trend to embrace Western hairstyles. In the early 20th century, Vietnamese revolutionary Pan Zhouzhen also advocated the “haircut movement” and challenged the concept of “parents who feel the body, hair and skin”. The first step taken by the times is on the hair.
Hair style has always been the most personal expression of attitude, and it has always been a wrestling field controlled by society. It may be said that hair is like a kind of media that each of us carries with us.