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How To Make Jamaican Braids
-Cornrow Style!

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jamaican braids

By C. Holness

Chances are you know someone who has spent a holiday in Jamaica and returns home with a head full of tiny braids, or you yourself may have visited the island and decided to try out this eye-catching hairstyle.

These small, tight braids are known as “cornrows” and are also a very popular style with many local people living in Jamaica, both females and males.

It may seem difficult to make these braids to those who don't know how to do so, but surprisingly it actually is not that hard at all!

You may be interested to know a little about the history and origin of cornrow braids and how they were brought to Jamaica.


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History of Cornrow Braids

  • Cornrow braids originate in Africa and date back thousands of years as evidenced by ancient sculptures hieroglyphs which have been unearthed, featuring figures with braids.  

  • In African civilizations, the particular style of one's braids can signify such details as age, tribal identity, religion, and social status.

  • The act of braiding is believed to be a  valuable means of sharing cultural expression, familial and friendship bonds,  and gives the one who is fashioning the braids a sense of pride as being able to impart a special gift on others. 

  • Mathematics and geometry have always played a part in creating braided designs which can be seen in their balance and symmetry. 

  •  When slaves were captured in West Africa and brought to the “new  world” cornrow braids were one of the traditional practices that came with them. Jamaica was one of the places where slaves were sold to work on plantations, so the Africans continues to wear their hair in these styles they were accustomed to, braiding it into tight braids close to the scalp.

Cornrow braid styles have remained popular on the island ever since, and have also taken on a symbolic and ethnic appeal which even attracts those from different cultural backgrounds.

Many tourists today enjoy having their hair braided when they visit Jamaica. Anyway, back to the 'meat of the matter'...

How to Make Jamaican Braids - Cornrow Style!

  1. The hair must be sectioned off so the front and back are divided by an even part in the middle. The part should be situated evenly between the ears and connect them, like a hairband. Secure the back section of hair with a clip, as you will be starting in the front.

  2. Beginning just above the right ear,  with a pick comb,  separate a small section of hair and pull it directly back. Hair left of the centre part should be brushed towards the left side of the head.

  3. Take a very small section of hair from the front of the hairline and form three sections, like those used to make a common braid. Then, grasp the hair with your index and middle finger as you cross strands over the middle piece, working

  4. Keep braiding, and as you do so, take a small section of hair from underneath every time you cross the middle section. With each twist, more hair from the area which has been sectioned off should be added. A small elastic can be added to end of

  5. Continue to divide the front section of hair into rows, repeating the above steps with each one until the entire front is braided back to the ears. Each braid should be fastened

  6. With scissors cut several small rectangle-shaped pieces of tinfoil. Wrap one around the end of each cornrow and then take three colourful, plastic beads and string them over the foil, wrapping it over the bottom edge of the last bead.

    Now you are finished, enjoy your authentic Jamaican cornrows braids!

Remember to get creative with your braids. You can literally create any pattern that suits your desire. Braids are not just and hairstyle, it is a form of artistic expression so have fun with it. 

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References & Sources For Jamaican Braids

  1. https://www.byrdie.com/history-of-cornrows-5193458
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