Ibadan – Prof. Bolanle Awe, a former Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, says the traditional hair-styles of Yoruba women are not only for beautification.
Awe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ibadan that the hairstyles could serve religious purposes as well as indicate identification, age, political power, ceremony, occupation or mood.
The don said Yoruba traditional hair styles could also function as a medium of communication, mark of initiation, show of state of mind and mark marital and social status of women.
She also explained that failure to properly groom the hair among the Yoruba was indicative of deviant or anti-social behavior as well as sign of illness.
“The hair is a very central point in Yoruba beliefs; humans are referred to as ‘omo adari hurun’ ( a specie that grows hair on the head.)
“The head occupies a pre-eminent place compared with other parts of the body, so too, the hair that covers the head.
“The culture and tradition of hair-do is rooted in both spiritual and biological roles of an individual’s head,” the don said.
“ A style from the fore-head which ends at the back of the neck shows the carrier is married; besides, married women adorn the head with hairstyles from both sides of the head and finish up at the middle.
“Such a network that connects the forehead and back together is a style that shows maturity, power and status of the woman,’’ she added.
Awe added that most married women in Yoruba land in the past adopted hairstyles in which the hair flowed from the front down to the nape of the neck.
She also said that the hairstyles could emerge from both sides and culminate at the top of the head.
“As for single ladies, they adopted styles in which their hair flowed from the right hair to the left.
“The smaller and the more hair strands a young lady carries, the more beautiful such a lady will look.
“Maidens usually adorn hair-styles of eight to 14 strands in braided or wrapped form, ” Awe said. (NAN)