dreadlocks, they’re not what you thought

Two sadhus (holy hermits) with his hair in jata.

 

Dredlocks

 

Dreadlocks, also locs, dreads, or in Sanskrit, Jata, are intentionally matted and sculpted ropes of hair. Various methods are used to encourage the formation of locks such as backcombing, braiding and rolling. While leaving long hair to its own devices – foregoing brushing, combing or cutting the hair – will generally result in tangles and mats, the formation of evenly sized ropes takes planning and maintenance. A common misconception is that those who have consciously formed dreadlocks do not wash their hair, but this is usually not the case; many dreadlock care regimens require the wearer to wash their hair as regularly as non-locked hair.

In Ancient Greece, kouros sculptures from the Archaic period depict men wearing dreadlocks, while Spartan hoplites (generally described as fair-haired) wore formal locks as part of their battle dress. Spartan magistrates known as Ephors also wore their hair braided in long locks, an Archaic Greek tradition that was steadily abandoned in other Greek kingdoms. The style was worn by Ancient Christian Ascetics, and the Dervishes of Islam, among others. Some of the very earliest Christians also may have worn this hairstyle; there are descriptions of James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, who is said to have worn them to his ankles.

Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.

In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a Sufi movement of Islam founded in 1887 by Shaykh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing locks and wearing multi-colored gowns. Cheikh Ibra Fall, founder of the Baye Fall school of the Mouride Brotherhood, popularized the style by adding a mystic touch to it. Warriors among the Fulani, Wolof and Serer in Mauritania, and Mandinka in Mali and Niger were known for centuries to have worn cornrows when young and and dreadlocks when old.

Rastafari

 

Rastafari movement locks are symbolic of the Lion of Judah which is sometimes centered on the Ethiopian flag. Rastafari hold that Haile Selassie is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, through their son Menelik I. Their dreadlocks were inspired by the Nazarites of the Bible.

When reggae music gained popularity and mainstream acceptance in the 1970s, the locks (often called “dreads”) became a notable fashion statement; they were worn by prominent authors, actors, athletes and rappers, and were even portrayed as part of gang culture in such movies as Marked for Death.

With dreadlocks style in vogue, the fashion and beauty industries capitalized on the trend. A completely new line of hair care products and services in salons catered to a white clientele, offering all sorts of dreadlocks hair care items such as wax (considered unnecessary and even harmful by many), shampoo, and jewelry. Hairstylists created a wide variety of modified locks, including multi-colored synthetic lock hair extensions and “dread perms”, where chemicals are used to treat the hair.

Locked models appeared at fashion shows, and Rasta clothing with a Jamaican-style reggae look was sold. Even exclusive fashion brands like Christian Dior created whole Rasta-inspired collections worn by models with a variety of lock hairstyles.

 

Dreadlocks of a person of Métisancestry, decorated with beads

 

In the West, dreadlocks have gained particular popularity among counter culture adherents such as hippies, crust punks, New Age travelers, goths and many members of the Rainbow Family. Many people from these cultures wear dreadlocks for similar reasons: symbolizing a rejection of government-controlled, mass-merchandising culture or to fit in with the people and crowd they want to be a part of (such as those who are fans of reggae music). Members of the cyber goth subculture also often wear blatantly artificial synthetic dreads or “dreadfalls” made of synthetic hair, fabric or plastic tubing.

Since the rise of the popularity of dreadlocks, African Americans have developed a large variety of ways to wear dreadlocked hair. Most of the African Americans in the United States with dreadlocks where people that live in Miami and New Orleans, with Louisiana having a Creole and Native American background and Florida with Haitian Roots. Specific elements of these styles include the flat-twist, in which a section of locks are rolled together flat against the scalp to create an effect similar to the cornrows, and braided dreadlocks. Examples include flat-twisted half-back styles, flat-twisted mohawk styles, braided buns and braid-outs (or lock crinkles). Social networking websites, web forums, web-logs and especially online video-logs like YouTube have become popular methods for people with dreadlocks to transmit ideas, pictures and tutorials for innovative styles.

 

Methods of making dreadlocks

 

Traditionally, it was believed that in order to create dreadlocks, an individual had to refrain from brushing, combing or cutting. This method created dreadlocks that varied greatly in size, width, shape, length, and texture. The method has come to be known as the “Neglect” method. Other names for this method include “Organic” or “Patience” methods. Similarly, “Free form” dreadlocks are created by allowing the hair to knit together naturally into locks of varying sizes. Free form locks are patterned to a degree, as the hair is separated in “chunks” (not parted as with a comb) into fairly determinate sections after washing.

A variety of other starter methods have been developed to offer greater control over the general appearance of dreadlocks. Together, these alternative techniques are more commonly referred to as “salon” or “manicured” dreadlocks.

Using beeswax to make dreads can cause problems because it does not wash out, due to the high melting point of natural wax. Because wax is a hydrocarbon, water alone, no matter how hot, will be able to remove wax.

 

As with the organic and free form method, the salon methods rely on hair naturally matting over a period of months to gradually form dreadlocks. The difference is in the initial technique by which loose hair is encouraged to form a rope-like shape. Whereas free form dreadlocks can be created by simply refraining from combing or brushing hair and occasionally separating matted sections, salon dreadlocks use tool techniques to form the basis of the starter, immature, set of dreadlocks. A “matured” set of salon dreadlocks won’t look the same as a set of dreadlocks that have been started with neglect or free form.

For African hair types, salon dreadlocks can be formed by evenly sectioning and styling the loose hair into braids, coils, twists, or using a procedure called dread perming specifically used for straight hair. For European, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian hair types, Backcombing and Twist and Rip are some of the more popular methods of achieving starter dreadlocks.

Regardless of hair type or texture and starter method used, dreadlocks require time before they are fully matured. The process hair goes through as it develops into matured dreadlocks is continuous.

There is also the ability to adopt different types of fake dreadlocks that may make the hair look as real as possible. This process is called synthetic dreadlocks. There are two different types of synthetic dreadlocks. The first is dread extensions, in which other hair can be infused with the wearer’s own hair. The second is dreadfalls, in which one dread is tied into another with either elastic or lace. Both of these methods are used to make dreads look better and more appealing, and to achieve the desired effect of longer hair.

Dreads work well with natural thick hair. Some African-Americans prefer this type of hairstyle since their hair is naturally thick.

So, as you can see, it’s not just unkempt dirty hair. There is a history; some have a reason/meaning behind their decision to loc. It takes time, maintenance, and love.  You find a family of Loc Lovers who you come to depend on as every stage of your loc journey is full of excitement. It’s one of the better choices I made regarding my natural hair.

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and Beauty Is Growth/Lisa Johnson

me

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