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“Viking hair braiding” and “African hair braiding”: When hair can speak a powerful voice

 So, you might have come across the “Viking hair braiding” while choosing which hairstyle you boldly want to try or might have heard the word “cornrow braids” few times or seen Beyonce on the red carpet with that hairstyle. And maybe through some quick researches, you might have realized that hair braiding has always been an important part appeared in many cultures, namely Egypt, Greek, China, Mongolia, etc. 

      But today, I am not going to present to you the historical parts or how to do the “Viking hair braiding” or “African hair braiding”, since there have been many articles on the internet that you can find stimulating to read and follow the guides.  As a result, this article just shows you a fresh viewpoint, it is the revival of Viking hairstyle and the genders and cultures embracing through hair braiding. 

 Going over the historical lesson

           To start with, we, unfortunately, might need to go over the historical lesson of Viking and African hair braiding, the two remarkable representatives of hair braiding for a few minutes. 

Viking hair braiding

PIcture 1. Ancient hair braiding

“Viking hair braiding”

Viking braiding hair
PIcture 2. Viking hair braiding

      It can be traced back to the Viking Age (793 AD-1066 AD), the time that the Vikings conquered and expanded their territory into Greenland, Newfoundland, Iceland and more. Although we can not sure if braiding started from the earliest, but looking back at all the collected documentaries, the specimens in the museums. One thing probably is correct is that the Vikings, especially men, are very well-groomed. They are meticulous about keeping their appearance neat and sanitary. Because the Vikings do not have any documents recording about their daily life made by themselves. We might have to rely on the documentaries coming from other countries, remarkably from the descriptions of Arabs and English, who back then did trade with the Vikings. The Arab merchants described them as good-looking sculpted people, with tattoos and differentiate habits. The English, on the other hand, said that the Vikings were clean and groomed. They showered at least once a week and comb hair regularly. So, as far as we know, it turned out very surprise that the Vikings are hygienic, and they care about their hair. Some even braided their beards. But are there any meanings behind the hair braiding? It is, and hair braiding is not associated with feminine characteristics. In contrast, it shows bravery and fierce of warriors, those characteristics that still passed down even within the inspired modern hairstyles of  “Viking hair braiding”. 

“African hair braiding”

hair braiding

PIcture 3. African hair braiding

   African hair braiding also has a rich history, dated back then from 3500 BC, deep in the land of many African tribes. In many African tribes, braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe. Through braid patterns and hairstyles, we can point out a person’s tribe, age, material status, wealth, power and religion. It likes an identity card at modern life yet carrying greatly traditional values through generations. But unlike the “Viking hair braiding”, which is well-known for men. The African hair braiding represents African women, their spirit and strength that never go away even after they leave their homeland. Now we traveled to New England, in 1619, when the first ship brought a group of black people to the promised land. When they were forced to strip down their traditional garb, rituals, and their own values to adapt to the unfamiliar environment, but harsh rules and discrimination. Back to their homeland, it was a tragedy that black hairstyles were being mocked, ridiculed and discriminated by colonizers. Now after many years, those dark memories have passed. And the “cornrow”, “goddess” hairstyles have successfully made their way back, even more popularized beyond its ethnic. It really does speak something incredibly beautiful about black women's spirit and their dignity. 

Embracing the gender power and cultural values

     That is the brief history of the Viking and African hair braiding. And if you wonder what more we can learn from that, I am pleased to present to you my belief about how powerful a hairstyle can deliver gender equality message and raise cultural awareness. 

    Embracing the gender power

        Before the show “Viking” on Netflix in 2013, Viking's hairstyle sounded very strange, almost appeared in historical papers or in museums. But with the show on aired and many people watched or heard about it, the identical hairstyle unexpectedly held a place in men’s hearts. And yes, with the braiding, the thing that before the arrival of Viking hairstyle, always associated with women, feminine characteristics. But now on the streets and on magazine covers, a man looks badass and cool when he is rocking the “Viking hair braiding”, or any inspired hairstyles such as mohawk, shaped hair under ponytails, etc. The switch genders in hairstyles seem like a positive and brilliant change since braiding has always looked great on women’s heads, with hair accessories. But now men can proud of their hairstyle, even with braided strands or buns, the braiding merely indicates that they are strong, fierce and hip. It is totally a gender power speak that does not need to be formal but simple and convincing enough. There should be no boundaries or prejudices whether a guy must wear guy’s things and a girl must wear girl’s things. Hence shout out to the revival of Viking braided hair! 

    Embracing cultural values

        The cultural values are also a point that should be pinned down and discuss more because it is undeniable that through the “Viking hair braiding”, more people have done the searching and aware more about the Viking culture. Therefore, more likely to embrace traditional values. 

          Speaking of the traditional values, although it is still debating whether it is appropriate for other ethnics to wear traditional clothes or hairstyles of others. I believe that if you wear and put them on with respect and thorough understanding, then you are welcomed. 


          Finally, through the “Viking hair braiding” and “African hair braiding”, it seems like hair braiding, even in ancient times or modern times. It consistently plays a significant role in our life, especially in the fashion aspect. Nevertheless, it, indeed, raises a powerful voice about gender equality and cultural appreciation. 

     If you are a Viking person, follow us at https://haquil.com/blogs/viking and check out other interesting Viking stuff!

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