I write often of the ways women used their wits to fool their suppressors. Last February I wrote a post on Civil War Spy Network Elizabeth Van Lew and Mary Bowser. I have written about the women who assist the causes for freedoms. “Petticoats and Redcoats” a couple years ago, WWII Codebreaker Elizabeth Freedman, just recently, and then Pinkerton detective Kate Warne.
I find this fascinating and quite ingenious.
“Cornrows on women date back to at least 3000 B.C. and as far back as the nineteenth century for men, particularly in Ethiopia. Warriors and kings were identified by their braided hairstyles.”
The oldest known depictions of hairstyles that appear to be cornrows or braids are the statues known as the Venus of Brassempouy and the Venus of Willendorf, which date to 25,000-30,000 years ago and were found in modern day France and Austria.
Depictions of women with cornrows have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara, and have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C.
Did you know Cornrows were used to help slaves escape slavery? Slaves used cornrows to transfer information and create maps to the north. Since slaves were not allowed to read or write they had to pass information through cornrows. They were also called “canerows” to represent the sugarcane fields that slaves worked in.
It is believed to have originated in Colombia, South America where Benkos Bioho, in the late 1500’s came up with the idea to have women create maps & deliver messages through their cornrows.
One style had curved braids, tightly braided on their heads. The curved braids would represent the roads they would use to escape. Also in their braids they kept gold and hid seeds which helped them survive after they escaped. They would use the seeds to plant crops once they were liberated.
Cornrows was the best way to not give back any suspicion to the owner. He would never figure out such a hairstyle would mean they would escape or the route they would take. #BLACKHISTORY. They were also called “canerows” to represent the sugarcane fields that slaves worked in.