Ever wonder how dreadlocks came to be one of the most iconic and culturally diverse hair styles in the world? Some attribute its popularity to the Rastafarian movement of the 20th century. While this certainly played a role in the history of dreads, men and women had been wearing them long before. In today’s blog post, we’re going to take a look back at the history and dreads, revealing its true roots and origins.
While historians continue to debate over which civilization is responsible for pioneering dreadlocks, it’s believed to have occurred around around 2,500 BCE (give or take a couple centuries. Ancient statutes from North African and the Horn of Africa of this time depict men with locked hair. The trend soon spread to nearby regions, including Egypt where mummified remains have been discovered with locked hair and wigs.
Dreadlocks in India
Of course, dreadlocks also have strong roots dating back to ancient India. The Hindu deity Shiva and his followers are often depicted with locked hair. In fact, Hindu scriptures describe them as wearing Jataa, which translates into “twisted locks of hair.” This placed the hairstyle in front of millions of followers, many of whom followed suit by locking their own hair.
Popularity for Dreadlocks Continues to Grow
Numerous other cultures and civilizations also began to lock their hair, including the Greeks. According to Wikipedia, over half of the remaining Ancient Greek kouros sculptures from 615-485 BCE have dreadlocks, attesting to the popularity of this hairstyle at the time.
In addition to Hindu, many other religious groups wore dreadlocks, such as the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church, Qalandari Sufis, Dervishes of Islam, and Christians. The first Bishop of Jerusalem, James the Just, is said to have worn dreadlocks down to his feet.
Dreadlocks saw a revival during the 1970s – a time when reggae music was steadily gaining popularity. Some of the most well-known authors, poets, athletes, celebrities, musicians, and fashion icons began to lock their hair. This period, known as the Rastafarian Movement, played a pivotal role in the history of dreadlocks, as it revived the once fading style with life and vigor.
Today, dreadlocks remain more popular than ever. You don’t have to search very hard to find someone sporting locked hair — a tend that’s unlikely to go away anytime soon given the deep, meaningful history behind dreadlocks.