What Race Wore Braids First?

The truth is that braids aren’t confined to a single race or origin story. They’re a testament to human ingenuity, weaving through cultures and continents for millennia.

Here’s What I’ve Discovered about Braids’ Global Tapestry:

  • Ancient Roots: Archaeological evidence points to braiding practices as early as 30,000 years ago, spanning regions from Africa to South America.
  • Cultural Tapestries: Braids have held diverse meanings across societies. In Africa, they’ve symbolized social status, tribal affiliation, spiritual beliefs, and practical hair protection. In Europe, they’ve signified marital status or social rank.
  • Global Exchange: Braids have evolved through cultural interactions, with techniques and styles intermingling across communities.

Appreciating Braids without Borders:

Instead of seeking a singular point of origin, let’s celebrate braids as a shared human heritage. They transcend borders, showcasing creativity, practicality, and the beauty of cross-cultural exchange.

Ancient Egypt: The Cradle of Braids

The roots of braids can be traced back to ancient Egypt, making it one of the earliest known cultures to embrace this hairstyle.

Egyptians used braids for aesthetics and practical purposes, such as keeping their hair clean and manageable in the hot desert climate.

Braids were commonly adorned with beads, shells, and precious metals, reflecting the status and wealth of the wearer.

These elaborate braided hairstyles were often worn by both men and women, showcasing their social standing within Egyptian society.

Indigenous Cultures: Braids as a Symbol of Heritage

Indigenous cultures worldwide have a rich history of braiding techniques that have been passed down through generations.

From Native American tribes to African communities, braids hold deep cultural significance and serve as a way to connect with ancestral traditions.

 The intricate patterns and designs woven into these braids often tell stories or represent spiritual beliefs. For these cultures, braids are more than just a hairstyle; they symbolize heritage and identity.

Viking Braids: Warriors with Style

When picturing Vikings, braided hair is often one of the first things that come to mind.

These fierce warriors were known for their elaborate braided hairstyles, which were not only fashionable but also served practical purposes during battle.

Braids helped keep their long hair out of their faces, preventing any hindrance during combat.

Viking braids were often adorned with beads, metal rings, or feathers, adding a touch of personal style to their fearsome appearance.

Asian Cultures: Intricate Braiding Techniques

Asian cultures have a long-standing tradition of intricate braiding techniques that vary across regions.

In Japan, traditional hairstyles like the Shimada and Wareshinobu feature intricately woven braids adorned with beautiful hair accessories.

In China, the art of hair braiding dates back thousands of years, with styles such as the “Liangdian” showcasing intricate patterns created through meticulous weaving.

Braided hairstyles in Asia are often associated with elegance, femininity, and cultural pride.

African Influence: The Global Impact of Braids

The influence of African cultures on braided hairstyles cannot be overstated.

The intricate and diverse braiding techniques from different African tribes have made their way globally, influencing fashion trends and inspiring countless individuals.

 From cornrows to box braids, these styles have become synonymous with African heritage and Black identity.

The popularity of African-inspired braids has transcended borders, creating a global appreciation for their beauty and cultural significance.

European Renaissance: Braids as an Art Form

During the European Renaissance period, braided hairstyles became a true art form.

Intricate and elaborate braids adorned with jewels, ribbons, and flowers were highly fashionable among noblewomen.

These complex styles required skilled artisans known as “tressors” who specialized in creating intricate braided patterns.

As a symbol of wealth and status, these braided hairstyles showcased the creativity and luxury of the upper classes during this time.

Modern Braids: A Global Phenomenon

Today, braided hairstyles continue evolving and adapting to contemporary fashion trends while paying homage to their historical roots.

Braids have become a global phenomenon, from celebrities on red carpets to everyday individuals on social media platforms.

They are celebrated for their versatility, allowing individuals from all races and backgrounds to express themselves creatively through their hair.

Modern braiding techniques draw inspiration from various cultures, creating a beautiful fusion of styles that transcends boundaries.


Braids have a deep-rooted history that spans across continents and cultures. They have evolved from ancient Egypt to modern-day fashion runways while retaining their cultural significance and timeless appeal.

While it is challenging to pinpoint the exact race that wore braids first, we can appreciate the contributions of diverse cultures in shaping this iconic hairstyle.

Whether you wear braids as a fashion statement or as a way to connect with your heritage, remember that they carry a rich tapestry of history and tradition.


Are there any specific benefits of wearing braids?

Yes, wearing braids can offer various benefits, such as protecting your hair from damage caused by environmental factors, reducing tangling and breakage, and providing a low-maintenance hairstyle option.

Can anyone wear braids regardless of their race or hair type?

Absolutely! Individuals from all races and hair types can wear braids. Various techniques and styles are available that cater to different textures and lengths of hair.

 How long does it take to get braids done?

The time required for getting braids depends on factors such as the complexity of the chosen style, the skill level of the hairstylist, and the length and thickness of your hair. It can range from a few hours to several or even multiple sessions.

Are there any cultural appropriation concerns when wearing certain types of braids?

Cultural appropriation is a valid concern regarding certain braids that hold deep cultural or religious significance for specific communities.
It is essential to approach these hairstyles with respect and understanding, avoiding any actions that may perpetuate harm or disrespect towards those cultures.

How can I care for my braided hair to maintain its health and longevity?

To care for your braided hair, ensure that you keep your scalp clean and moisturized by using gentle cleansers and oils specifically formulated for braided hairstyles.
Avoid excessive pulling or tension on the braids and protect them during sleep or physical activities by wearing a satin, silk bonnet, or silk pillowcase.

Can I still participate in cultural traditions if I am not part of that specific race or ethnicity?

While respecting and appreciating cultural traditions is important, participation should be done in a manner that avoids appropriation or disrespect.
Learning about the culture’s history, significance, and etiquette is recommended before engaging in any practices or traditions associated with a specific race or ethnicity.

How can I find a skilled hairstylist who specializes in braiding?

To find a skilled hairstylist specializing in braiding techniques, you can ask for recommendations from friends or family members who have had positive experiences.
Additionally, online platforms and social media can be valuable resources for finding hairstylists who showcase their work and receive positive reviews from satisfied clients.

Are there any alternative hairstyles similar to braids that I can explore?

If you are looking for alternative hairstyles similar to braids, you can consider twists, locs (dreadlocks), or weaves/extensions.
 These styles offer similar versatility and allow you to express your individuality while complementing your preferences and hair type.

How can I experiment with different braid styles without causing damage to my natural hair?

To experiment with different braid styles without causing damage to your natural hair, it is crucial to ensure that your hair is adequately moisturized before installing the braids.
Additionally, avoid excessive tension or weight on your scalp and give your hair regular breaks between protective styles to allow it to rest and rejuvenate.

Is there any significance behind the colors used in some braided hairstyles?

In certain cultures or communities, specific colors used in braided hairstyles may hold symbolic meanings or represent cultural pride.
For example, red may symbolize strength or vitality in some African traditions. However, the significance of colors can vary across different cultures and contexts.
Remember to consult a professional hairstylist for personalized advice tailored to your unique hair needs before making significant changes or embarking on new hairstyle journeys.

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