April 16, 2014
The African Context of Hair in Ancient Egypt

wtfhistory:

medievalpoc:

afro-textured-art:

In February, #blackinasia wrote an essay, “Ancient Egyptian “Blackness” in the Graeco-Roman Imagination”, based on the ancient Egyptian race “controversy”, a long held debate that takes root from anti-black racism (Martin 300-306), that rejects any possibility of seeing ancient Egypt within an African context. This “controversy” has led ancient Egypt to be grouped under a near Eastern context, a European context in popular culture or a group of its own, entirely separate from the rest of African cultures (Martin 296). However, what usually goes largely ignored is the Afrocentric elements ancient Egyptians used in portraying themselves.

image

[image description: A model of a funerary boat from a tomb at Beni Hasan. 11th-12th Dynasty with figurines wearing Afro-like styles]

In #blackinasia’s essay on “blackness” in ancient Egyptian, he explains that the ancient Egyptians would more likely see themselves more as an African people than anything else through their cultural, linguistic, and biological background. #blackinasia starts off with explaining their ancestral homeland, the Land of Punt, which is located in modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. He then goes on to the biological similarities between the ancient Egyptians and Nubians (who are accepted as black Africans). Then onto how in ancient Egyptian art, Egyptians are depicted in brown and black hues. He later ends the essay with what is considered “blackness” through Graeco-Roman perceptions, listing more examples where Greek scholars imagined Egyptians within an African context.

image

[image description: a map of the continent of African with Egypt highlighted and label revealing it’s location]

I first would like to paraphrase Eglash and Odumosu (102) when I say that Africa does not have a homogenous culture in anyway, that is not to say that there a singular African identity, so instead I use the term “African context”. When I speak about an “African hair culture” it is to simplify a complex phenomena describing a family resemblance across multiple cultural streams.

As #blackinsasia mentions there are some cultural roots of ancient Egypt that better portrays them as an African people than ancient near eastern or European people. I believe there are actually multiple examples of how this is culturally true. However, for the sake of the theme for this blog, in this essay I argue that through close examination of the history of hair and hairstyles in ancient Egypt a pattern of similarities can be seen with African cultures and in fact that such cultural hair practices can only be indigenous to an African context. 

image

[image description: a side-by-side comparison between a Himba child and Ramesses II as a child to show a cultural resemblance in which it is quite common for various African peoples to shave their infants’ head, sometimes leaving a tuft of hair. (Seiber and Herreman 56).]

The Hair Texture of Ancient Egyptians

image

[image description: an artistic depiction of Herodotus, known as the “father of history and travel writing.” Photo via The Telegraph)

The ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, describes the hair of the ancient Egyptians as woolly using the term (οὐλότριχες), ulotrichous which means woolly or crisp hair. The root word, οὐλό, also has been used by Greeks to also describe the hair of Ethiopians, or black Africans (Snowden 6). There is also Cleopatra’s attendant, Iras, who is described as being dark-skinned with woolly hair (Snowden 15).

image

[image description: A Fresco Scene of two grape farmers, two of which had thread-like lines for hair which possibly represents straight hair and the figure to the far right seems to be wearing afro-textured hair.]

Though enough mummies have been discovered to infer that some ancient Egyptians had straight hair, this piece of fact is usually used as an end-all debate by anti-black racists that deem it impossible for ancient Egyptians to be seen in an African context. What usually happens is that anti-black racists show that Egyptian mummies had straight hair and that supposedly that proves ancient Egyptians were closer to Arabs, Europeans, or any other people other than Africans. However, many of these denialists fail to explain why straight hair is apparently lacking in ancient Egyptian hairstyles. In fact, if we examine the history of ancient Egypt a trend of the indigenous people being woolly-haired becomes more evident especially in the Predynastic periods.

image

[image description: A scene from the Narmer Palette from the Naqada III period of two afro-haired men.]

Throughout ancient Egyptian history, including the Predynastic periods, there have been sufficient discoveries of combs with long teeth resembling African combs, suited for combing through and detangling coarse hair.

image

[image description: Ivory combs and hair pins from the Naqada period before the rise of Pharaohonic Egypt.]

There have even been a discovery of a toupee being made out of sheep’s or goat’s wool (Tassie 1066).

With the examples given through literary and art representations, and the use of particular materials and tools such as wool wigs and “Afro-combs”, it is safe to assume that the ancient Egyptians did have a consistent history of having “woolly”, or οὐλό type of hair. Although some ancient Egyptians did indeed seem to had straight hair, the absence of straight hair in the majority of art seem to suggest it was either not standard and/or did not fit within ideal image of their culture. 

The Dominant Culture of Hair in Ancient Egypt

“There are five main operations that can be performed on hair:

It can be curled or left curly;

It can be straightened or left straight;

It can be plaited, twisted, or teased;

Hair can be added; and

Hair can be taken away.” (Tassie 1064)

Although there have been Egyptians with straight hair, we normally don’t see any incorporation of leaving the hair straight in their various hairstyles especially among the upper class.This tells us the kind of dominant culture present within ancient Egypt society that led to a suppression toward otherness, such as balding (not the same as baldness), any hair color that wasn’t black, and as I argue in this paper, straight hair as well. (Tassie 1063).

According to the Dictionary of Sociology, dominant culture can be defined as the established cultural traits that would be considered as the norm for a society as a whole. Regarding to hair, the ancient Egyptians would usually either curl (even tightly), twist, and plait their hair, or hair pieces.

image

[image description: (from left to right) lady Istemkhebs’ short curly wig , duplex wig, Ahmose-Hentempet’s short curly wig. Located in the Cairo Musuem]

These alterations to the hair actually bear more resemblance to afro-textured hair and aesthetics found in African cultures. We can even see many of these similar alterations and styles in modern-day black Africans (the well ignored) that inhabit Northeast Africa, such the Afar people.

image

[image description: Ancient Egyptian depiction of Nubians wearing traditional hairstyles of status, bringing tribute on the tomb of Huy. Note the Nubian servant with straight-ish hair]

It cannot be left unsaid that ancient Egyptians also enjoyed other styling methods that other Africans did to their hair, such as tinting and particular braiding pattern even to the point of emulating Nubian hairstyles, as stated above the two are closely related biologically.

theancientworld:    Canopic Jar Lid, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, late reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1340–1336 B.C.Egyptian; From KV55, Valley of the Kings, western ThebesEgyptian alabaster with glass and stone inlays     Egyptian wigs are always something I’ve found fascinating.  This is a really lovely representation of one in a pretty stunning medium!  ALABASTER!

[image description: Canopic Jar Lid in the Shape of a Royal Woman’s Head wearing a hairstyle much similar to Nubians]

I like to further my point on the dominant culture of hair in ancient Egypt. During wig constructions, the type of hair they used for the wigs in every case was straight hair rather than afro-textured hair except that of Maiherpri’s (Fletcher 495). The hair would be gathered from either the wearers’ own heads, foreign captives, or from trading(Tassie 1066). However, the use and handling of straight hair did not prompt ancient Egyptians to seek out Eurocentric aesthetics, but rather they consistently altered the texture to appear more like Afro-textured hair or other African styles.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank medievalpoc and lannaluv for reviewing this essay.

Further Reading

Curating Kemet: Fear of a Black Land? by Sally-Ann Ashton 

Egyptian hair combs in the Fitzwilliam Museum by Sally-Ann Ashton

Hair and the Construction of Identity in Ancient Egypt by Gay Robins

Bibliography

#Blackinasia. “Ancient Egyptian ‘Blackness’ in the Graeco-Roman Imagination”. Tumblr. 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014

Bridge, Sarah. “The Ethiopian Tribes Who Use BUTTER to Style Their Hair: Incredible Photos Reveal the Elaborate Curled Creations of the Afar People, and the Hamer Who Mix Ghee with Red Ochre to Spectacular Effect.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

"Dominant Culture." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Eglash R. and Odumosu T. “Fractals, Complexity, and Connectivity in Africa.” What Mathematics from Africa? ed. G. Sica. Italy: Polimetrica International Scientific Publisher, 2005. 101-109. PDF File.

Fletcher, Joann. “Hair.” Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. By Ian Shaw. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 495-96. Print.

"GEICO Ancient Pyramids Were A Mistake Commercial." MarketMeNot. n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

GORDON MARSHALL. “dominant culture.” A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2014 

knowledgeequalsblackpower.”Maiherpri, Buried at Thebes, Valley of the Kings, New Kingdom 18th Dynasty, 1427-1392 BC” Tumblr. 10 Jan. 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Martin, F. “The Egyptian Ethnicity Controversy and the Sociology of Knowledge”.Journal of Black Studies 14.3 (1984) 296+300-306. Print.

Seiber R. and Herreman F. “Hair in African Art and Culture”. African Arts33.3. 2000. 54-69+96. PDF File. 

Snowden, Frank M. Blacks in Antiquity; Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1970. Print.

Tassie, G. J. “Hair in Egypt.”, “Hair in Egypt: People and Technology Used in Creating Egyptian Hairstyles and Wigs”,”Hairstyling Technology and Techniques Used in Ancient Egypt”. Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-western Cultures: With 107 Tables. ed. Helaine Selin. Berlin: Springer, 2008. 1060-1076. Print.

TRUTHTEACHER2007. Ancient Egyptian Afro Wigs. Youtube. 22 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

The research here is amazing.

This is awesome.

April 13, 2014
bonearenaofmyskull:

madhattie3:

hannibalkanibalas:

hannibalkanibalas:

hannibalkanibalas:

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT




GUYS

This is going to be a thing, isn’t it?
Each season Chilton has some horrific thing done to him which almost could have killed him, but he survives and just keeps coming back for more! 

OMG they killed Kenny Frederick!

bonearenaofmyskull:

madhattie3:

hannibalkanibalas:

hannibalkanibalas:

hannibalkanibalas:

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT

image

image

GUYS

This is going to be a thing, isn’t it?

Each season Chilton has some horrific thing done to him which almost could have killed him, but he survives and just keeps coming back for more! 

OMG they killed Kenny Frederick!

1:47am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZQLFyt1CudmY-
  
Filed under: hannibal 0_o 
April 13, 2014

thegeminisage:

mudora77:

spaceconfessional:

basiacat:

bucky spending hours at that smithsonian exhibit, staring at everything, watching every single one of the little “newsreel” clips, getting escorted out of the museum because he’s the last one there, sir, you must not have heard our announcements, but we’re open at ten tomorrow

bucky going to the exhibit every single day for a week straight and that one older security guard is so nice to him, telling him in a low, conspiratory whisper one evening that he was there when the captain america costume got stolen by captain america himself, isn’t that just ridiculous? and you’re a dead ringer for sergeant barnes, son, you’d look good in that costume

bucky finally showing up on steve’s doorstep on a rainy evening – it’s a spacious old brownstone, sam up tippy-top, steve on the ground floor, nat in the basement – and he’d had a whole speech prepared and carefully memorized but when he sees steve’s shocked face it all crumbles and he just sort of scrambles to catch his breath, hands clenched tight in his coat pockets, prosthesis whirring, and steve just looks at him for a solid minute then tells him to come in, they’ll throw some couch cushions on the ground, it’ll be like old times, and bucky just breaks

it’s messy and it’s horrible and bucky wakes up screaming almost every night but steve is steady and solid and reassuring like he’s always been, and he asks natasha and bruce to help him find a psychologist after bucky confesses to him, barely whispering, that he thinks he needs some Help

steve being gentle with bucky because god it was hard enough to get thrown into the 21st century but getting tortured, electrocuted, tossed in and out of cryo, practically lobotomized––

steve being so fucking gentle when he helps bucky sort through his memories, starts telling him stories and leaving out details and watching that old grin slide across bucky’s face when he remembers something steve didn’t mention

steve and bucky going back to that smithsonian exhibit together on a slow, snowy wednesday morning when everyone’s at work and at school, taking their time, and there are a couple of moments where bucky starts to shut down but steve touches his shoulder or his back and they move through it together

running into that old security guard as they leave and when bucky winks at him, steve has to hide a grin because that’s absolutely the bucky that he grew up with

sometimes it’s a step forward and sometimes it’s three steps back; bucky is pretty sure the nightmares will be a constant for the rest of his life but that’s okay, because steve is there every time and–– -

well, to the end of the line, right?

image

NO.

NOOOO

NOOOOOOOO

(via eleveninches)

1:05am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZQLFyt1CuTCE6
  
Filed under: NOOOOO 
April 12, 2014

(Source: naturalbeauty92, via haeralis)

April 12, 2014

(Source: skindeeptales, via bogleech)

April 12, 2014
t3hsiggy:

nymphamortem:

blue-author:

runnerjive:

thre3dprint:

Open Source Clothing.

Now I feel it imperative to reblog this, because the project seems to have hit a snag: The video they put up has been taken down because of claims of 3rd-party content, whatever whatever corporate lawyer stuff internet throttling stuff. That makes me think that Bennetton or one of the others whose stores were glimpsed in the background got their hooks in Vimeo.So I thought I’d tell you a yarn about how this thing works: You download the open-source plans for the machine. You build it. You download their open-souce clothing-maker program.You enter the desired measurements into the fields (the ones I remember from the video were arm and neck and chest measurements, so I’m sure they have waist and/or hips too)You print out your sweater, or hat, or scarf, or cardigan, or whatever it was that you selected. It takes an hour to print out the sweater, working off of the two yarn spools that you can see in the bottom right corner of this .gifThat’s it. Custom-fit, custom-color clothing in an hour, for the price of yarn. Can you see why one of the clothing companies targetted in the video might have felt threatened enough to force the video to come down?

I know if I sold overpriced manufactured clothes, I’d see this as a looming menace.

I WILL HAVE HAUTE COUTURE

t3hsiggy:

nymphamortem:

blue-author:

runnerjive:

thre3dprint:

Open Source Clothing.

Now I feel it imperative to reblog this, because the project seems to have hit a snag: The video they put up has been taken down because of claims of 3rd-party content, whatever whatever corporate lawyer stuff internet throttling stuff. That makes me think that Bennetton or one of the others whose stores were glimpsed in the background got their hooks in Vimeo.
So I thought I’d tell you a yarn about how this thing works:
You download the open-source plans for the machine.
You build it.
You download their open-souce clothing-maker program.
You enter the desired measurements into the fields (the ones I remember from the video were arm and neck and chest measurements, so I’m sure they have waist and/or hips too)
You print out your sweater, or hat, or scarf, or cardigan, or whatever it was that you selected. It takes an hour to print out the sweater, working off of the two yarn spools that you can see in the bottom right corner of this .gif
That’s it. Custom-fit, custom-color clothing in an hour, for the price of yarn. Can you see why one of the clothing companies targetted in the video might have felt threatened enough to force the video to come down?

I know if I sold overpriced manufactured clothes, I’d see this as a looming menace.

I WILL HAVE HAUTE COUTURE

(Source: prostheticknowledge, via thepageofhopes)

April 12, 2014

(Source: englishsnow, via marioncotilllards)

April 12, 2014

becausebirds:

Fluffy, running Sanderlings!

source video

(via unbadger)

April 11, 2014
"We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love."

— Lori Deschene (via highanxietiessupport)

(Source: onlinecounsellingcollege, via cleolinda)

April 11, 2014

amplifiedgearbox:

cmchickendog:

ultrafacts:

10 Useful websites that you can use.

More facts on Ultrafacts!

THANK

for any and all who need the info

(via hipdomestic)

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »