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12 - Yorùbá Hair Art and the Agency of Women

from Part III - Visual Cultures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2022

Toyin Falola
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

This chapter dwells on the beauty of a woman’s hair and explains the cultural value attached to the head. The hair is seen as an agentive part of the body, crucial to the wholesome understanding of the entire human framework. It can distinguish gender. For example, the Kojusoko hairstyle is “forbidden” for men. Furthermore, Kojusoko (meaning “face your husband”) is not only known for distinguishing between gender, but also for describing women. The discipline and values inherent in the message being expressed are the typical moral standards of the Yoruba. Besides the gender role and message being conveyed by hairstyles, hairstyles also express spiritual connotations. For example, there is traditional importance to the loose state of the hair of a mourning woman. Other occasions include “naming, cult festivities, pageantry, and celebrations.” With pictorial evidence, the chapter emphasizes how hair shows age, identity, religion, political status, or social categorization and differences in the styles adopted at executing the patterns and drawing the lines, as well as the length used.

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Decolonizing African Knowledge
Autoethnography and African Epistemologies
, pp. 373 - 413
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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