Saturday, 16 February 2013

What’s in a name? Part Two: Twists

For part one see this post. I think it would be safe to assume that these are commonly known as twists worldwide whether done on real hair, with extensions added, or number of strands involved in the twisting. I don’t get the whole “two strand” twist business, no one I know does them any other way so for me they are simply twists, I guess if I ever had three strands or even one strand twists I would still call them twists as opposed to “three strand twists” or “one strand twists”. The other name variations I know of refer to the type of extension hair used to twist or the size of the twist. When extension hair branded afro kinky hair, kinky hair and marley hair are used then the name changes to kinky twists or afro kinky twists these names are more common in the UK and sub Saharan African countries the brand marley hair is more common in the US and Caribbean regions. 
Kinky twists curled in hot water

 In some parts of East and Southern Africa micro twists which are done real tiny as the name suggests are referred to as Maasai twists after the Maasai community. The Maasai morans (a moran is a warrior) of Kenya and Tanzania are master twisters if there was ever such a word and the interesting thing is that in this community it is the men who do the twisting on their fellow men’s hair it’s considered a man’s job! They twist their hair and dye them red with ochre, they actually end up looking like micro dreadlocks on dyeing. While we are on the subject can anyone in the know please tell me how the name Senegalese twists which is more common in the US came about because I am not aware of braiding hair called Senegalese hair and the style did not originate from neither is it specific to Senegal (because other African countries do them as well) as has been suggested by some people maybe a Senegalese braider made them famous in the Diaspora. Oh well what’s in a name…

 I decided to add the following categories to this post since they involve some form of twisting:

Threading/African Threading
Now if you are an African child you probably got your hair threaded at some point growing up. For me this was the most hated hairstyle simply because it was PAINFUL! I remember one time I had my hair threaded so tight I couldn’t sleep due to the pain and headache that came with it, it had to be taken out in the middle of the night. Threading can be done close wrapped (the thread is wrapped around the hair with no spaces in between)  or spaced (thread is wrapped around the hair with spaces in between), close wrapped is more common as a long term protective style done with elaborate designs. Back in the day they did really elaborate threaded hairstyles, spaced wrapping is done more to stretch the hair. In Kenya it is commonly known as “Uzi” which basically means “thread” in Swahili and refers both to yarn/wool and sewing thread both of which are used for this hairstyle. There is no name variation that I know of for “yarn braids” or “threading” it’s simply called Uzi. In Zimbabwe it is known as mabhanzi.

Hair threaded using Yarn. This is what close wrapped looks like; no spaces in between the yarn. Also referred to as yarn locks or yarn braids excuse the photo quality this was taken with a camera phone
I am sure by now braiders have learnt to relax their hand with threading so it’s less painful. It’s a shame the elaborate threading hairstyles are not as common anymore just image Google "african threading hair styles" to see what I am talking about especially the black and white images. I wonder how some of those women slept mine were always threaded then flat twisted in two or three rows from what I can remember. Nowadays people tend to do them in medium to small size singles and then get them styled in an updo or bun or just let them loose. I once saw a woman at the salon as a little girl who got her hair threaded with Raffia hair I remember the name because I found it funny and it stuck in my head ever since. I doubt if it’s even sold commercially I think it’s made from palms leaves and dyed or something to that effect. Yarn just like normal braiding hair can be used to create twists, temporary locks and braids as well.
Made famous worldwide by Rastafarians but have been worn for generations before by different ethnic groups. The Mau Mau freedom fighters of Kenya for example who fought for independence from the British colonialists in the 1950s were known for their dreadlocked hair. Apparently theirs came about from hiding in the forest for long periods of time which resulted in their uncombed hair growing into long matted locks. Some of the fighters still living today are well over 80 years of age and have maintained their dreadlocks to this day. I had a grandma (one of my many extended family grandmas) called Grandma Loyce may her soul rest in perfect peace who had beautiful waist length dreadlocks. It’s a shame I never got to find out how she came to locking her hair before she died I only ever saw her a few times and none of my family members that I asked seemed to know everyone has a different story about her locks. Dreadlock variations include temporary locks as seen in the second photo below and sisterlocks amongst others.

My cousin Jackie's dreadlocks, she has had them close to five years now and this is her current length

Kinky locks; the kinky extension hair is close wrapped around the hair the same way you would do threading. Some people do single braids first then wrap around it but that is way too long in my opinion. Taken with a camera phone excuse the photo quality.

What do you call any of these hairstyles or their variations where you are from or live?

Thanks once again to Tendayi for the Zimbabwean name and the lovely ladies who gave me permission to use their photos for this post, Jackie, Emma, Judy and random girl at church.

UK: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

US: The United States of America

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Thank you for reading...feel free to add a comment, suggestion or question. I am always happy to hear from you! Lydz.