Among the Yorubas of southwestern Nigeria, the head (called ori) is given a very prominent position and particularly in the females, the hair is considered to be the crown of women beauty. Over the years, the rich cultural values of the Yorubas have come up with various beautiful and dazzling hairstyles.
These hairstyles are not just for beautification. They also serve other purposes and these can be religious, as a sign of identification, age, political power, ceremony, occupation or even to reflect the mood of the lady. It can also signify the marital status of a woman. Married women in Yorubaland in those days adopt hairstyles in which the hair flows from the front down to the nape of the neck, or it can emerge from both sides and culminate at the top of the head. Some other married women adopt the one in which the hair comes from the forehead and from the back and then meet up at the center of the head. As for the single ladies (all the single ladies….lol! You remember that song, right…lol), they use styles in which their hair flows from the right ear to the left. Before we continue, we need to make some distinction among the various techniques used:
IRUN KIKO: Hair knotting with thread (threading), usually black in color.
IRUN DIDI: Normal hair plaiting, without thread.
IRUN BIBA: Braiding.
You get that? Ok, let’s roll! Remember your primary and secondary school days when your headmistress (or headgirl) will announce that ‘the hairstyle for next week is…’. Well, I can see you smiling and saying koroba, shuku or even Concorde. Today, PCM Crew has travelled extensively and we bring to you some of the most fascinating hairstyles of Yoruba women. Each hairstyle has its unique message and are very very beautiful! Enjoy:
1-SHUKU (also called Suku, means basket): This is quite simple and it is one of the most popular in Nigeria. It is a form of braiding in which the hair runs from the forehead to the nape of the neck or forms a rump on top of the head. When shuku is blended with koroba, it is called orishabumni. At a time, it was only the wives of kings that could make shuku but that change over time and anyone can now adorn the style.
2-KOROBA (Bucket or pail): The braidings radiate from the center of the head to all parts, like an upturned bucket or container.
3-KOLESE (means ‘Legless’): In this knotting style, each knot originates from the front and runs to the back of the head, not too far from the neck. It is also called ‘all back’ or ‘corn rows’.
4-IPAKO ELEDE (means ‘occiput of a pig’ or ‘pig’s nape’): In ipako elede, the styling starts from the back but everything eventually ends infront. When scaling the braids, the non-linear contours of the head are followed. There is a main middle model that the Onidiri (hair stylist, weaver or hair dresser) follows by repeating the units in a an amazing form of fractal geometry. Ònsèsòó is the person on whose head the style is being made. And because the head is believed to be the seat of the soul, Ònsèsòó is forbodden to price the amount charged while the Onidiri is expected to shun food while working.
5-PANUMO (means ‘Keep Shut!’): Panumo starts from two different points, one from the forehead and one from the back. The two meet at the centre of the head leaving a little hole.
6-OJOKOPETI: (means ‘Rain is not beating the ears’): The styling technique of this is in such a way that it starts from one ear and then moves across to the other ear. I love that!
8. Kojusoko (Face your husband)
9. Kehinsoko (Turn your back to your husband)
10. Onile Gogoro/Akaba/Aladile (Skyscraper)
12-Four Adese line
18-Nigeria Drive Right
27-Oro Oko kowoti (the words of the husband never enters the ears)
28-Cut-cut (to depict women who move from one man to the other without settling down)
29-Iyawo Osingin (new bride)
31. Be Front
52. West African Record