African Braiding History: Where it Began

Braiding is an ancient art that has been practiced for centuries across the world. However, African braiding stands out as one of the most intricate and culturally significant forms of braiding. The history of African braiding is rich and diverse, with each style carrying its own unique meaning and symbolism. From cornrows to box braids, African braiding has become a popular trend in modern times, but its roots run deep in the continent’s history. In this article, we will explore the origins of African braiding, its different styles, famous African braiders, and its influence on modern-day hair culture.

African Braiding History: Different Styles

Braiding has been a significant part of African culture for centuries, with various styles and techniques passed down from generation to generation. One of the most popular styles is cornrows, which involves braiding hair close to the scalp in straight lines or intricate patterns. Another style is box braids, where hair is sectioned into small squares and then braided. These styles not only serve as a form of self-expression but also have cultural significance.

In addition to cornrows and box braids, there are other traditional African braiding styles such as Senegalese twists, Fulani braids, and Ghanaian braids. Each style has its unique features and history behind it. For example, Fulani braids are named after the Fulani people of West Africa who traditionally adorned their hair with beads and cowrie shells. Senegalese twists originated in Senegal and were initially worn by women as a protective hairstyle during long journeys across the desert.

Overall, African braiding history is rich with diverse styles that have been passed down through generations. These hairstyles not only serve as a form of beauty but also reflect cultural traditions and values.

African Braiding History: Influence on Modern Braiding

African braiding has had a significant influence on modern braiding techniques. The intricate and elaborate styles of African braids have been adapted and modified to suit the preferences of people from different cultures around the world. Today, we see a fusion of African braiding styles with modern hairdressing techniques, resulting in unique and creative hairstyles.

One of the most notable ways that African braiding has influenced modern braiding is through the use of extensions. In traditional African braiding, extensions made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton were used to add length and volume to the hair. This technique has been adopted by modern hairdressers who use synthetic hair extensions to create more elaborate and complex hairstyles.

Another way that African braiding has influenced modern braiding is through the use of intricate patterns and designs. Traditional African braids often feature complex geometric patterns that require great skill and precision to create. These patterns have inspired modern hairdressers to experiment with different shapes, sizes, and colors to create unique and eye-catching hairstyles.

Overall, the influence of African braiding on modern braiding cannot be overstated. From extensions to intricate patterns, African braids have provided a rich source of inspiration for hairstylists around the world.

African Braiding History: Famous African Braiders

When it comes to African braiding, there are a few names that stand out in history as some of the most famous braiders. One such name is Madam CJ Walker, who is known for her contributions to the hair industry as a whole. She was an African American entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her fortune by creating hair care products specifically for black women. Her products were designed to help women style their hair at home, which was revolutionary at the time.

Another famous African braider is Cornrows, also known as Fulani Braids. This style originated in West Africa and has been worn for centuries. It involves braiding the hair close to the scalp in a series of straight lines or rows. The style was traditionally worn by both men and women and was often used as a way to signify social status or tribe affiliation.

Overall, these famous African braiders have left an indelible mark on history with their contributions to the hair industry and their influence on modern braiding techniques. Their legacies continue to inspire new generations of hairstylists and braid enthusiasts around the world.


In conclusion, African braiding has a rich history that dates back centuries. From the intricate designs of the Fulani to the bold patterns of the Maasai, African braiding styles have been passed down through generations and continue to inspire modern braiding techniques today. The influence of African braiding can be seen in popular styles such as cornrows and box braids, which have become staples in the hair care industry. As we celebrate the beauty and diversity of African culture, it is important to recognize and honor the artistry and skill of African braiders who have kept this tradition alive for centuries.