The Origins of Things
The Origin of Locs & Branches
Once when inquiring about someone’s locs, a person told me to look up at the trees and observe how every tree was different because of its branches. They told me that as every tree had its branches, that we too are meant to be unique- with our locs as branches.
This blog has been inspired by that unique branches metaphor to be a resource that informs the world to abandon narrow sterotypes about loced hair wearers (like that we are all Rastafarian ( a belief) or Jamaican (an ethnicity)), and to learn the wide spectrum of persons, personalities, motivations, intentions and beliefs about wearing and caring for the loc’ed hair style.
Hopefully this blog and its archive can also be inspiration and education to those who are on their journeys and seek help finding their way.
The Origin of Locs
Most people in the Americas have become familiar with dread locs (simply referred to as locs on this blog) as one of the most outwardly observable features of Rastafarian culture which originated in Jamaica. While loc’ing hair is, in fact, a major practice in the Rastafarian culture, the origin of locs as an intentional hair style is unclear, though there are many origin stories.
One of the story that has been cited by many of the culturally-observant people of the African Diaspora traces locs to the Mau-Mau people of Kenya who wore locs as an act of cultural resistance in their revolt against colonialism in 1952. Later, the Rastafarians of Jamaica chose to emulate the Mau-Mau’s act of resistance as they resisted also demonstrated against colonial rule, calling the locs “dreadlocks” to convey the angst of living in a colonialist system. (For the Rastafarians, locs are a sign of their African identity as well as a manisfestation of a religious vow of their separation from the wider society and much modern day belief about treating one’s locs in an esteemed spiritual manner has been influenced by them.)
However, other stories predate both the Mau-Mau and Rastafarian resistance. One theory attributes the appearance of locs in the Western World to the Hindu holy men who arrived in Jamaica as indentured laborers in the 1800s. Even further in time, Ceasar once described the Celts of Ireland as having “hair like snakes,” while some interpretations indicate that Biblical figures Samson and John the Baptist had loc’ed hair. In eras preceeding both Christ and Cesar, King Tutankhamen was found with to have died with his hair in a loc hairstyle.
When and where locs began may for ever be untraceable, but it is certain that locs are increasingly popular both for fashion and as a outer sign of cultural and spiritual identity.
Curated & written in the Land of Locs (Brooklyn,NY) by: Courtney Williams
All photographs expressly the creative property of the curator unless otherwise stated.