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Braids, Bantu Knots, and Cornrows: Three Facts About Three Iconic Black Styles

At INALA, celebrating black hair is woven into our brand DNA and is what inspired our co-founder to create the brand a year ago. In celebration of Black History Month, we’re putting a spotlight on the Crown Act and why it is such an important cause to us at INALA.

There is deeply cultural and spiritual significance between Black people and their hair. The Crown Act, which has been adopted by 20 states as of February 2023, prevents race-based hair discrimination due to hair texture or protective styles, which pushes the country one step closer for Black Americans and the freedom to wear their hair how they want. 

The historical roots of intricate braids, Bantu knots, and cornrows span thousands of years, and below are three facts about these traditionally black styles: 

  • Braids: The wearing of intricate braids in Western Africa, which can be traced back 5000 years, was more meaningful than just fashion and function – different braid patterns and designs signified tribal affiliation, marital status, age, religion, wealth, and rank for both men and women. 

Two women with braided hair

  • Bantu knots: Also known as Zulu knots or Nubian knots, this hairstyle originated in Southern Africa by the Zulu people and held great cultural significance. “Bantu” translates to “people,” and was considered a sacred style due to hair being closest to the heavens on the body. 

Trendy woman with Bantu knots

  • Cornrows: Originating in Africa, this style of braid  was named because of their resemblance to cornfields and could be styled simple or ornate depending on the desired look, making them a versatile and practical hairstyle. 

Two young people with cornrow braids.

Looking for more iconic Black hair styles throughout history? You can check out this article from History.com for a more in-depth look. For more information on the Crown Act and how you can get involved, visit their website.

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