1BlessedNatural Spotlight: Traditional Eritrean Hairstyles

3 Eritrean women wearing the a traditional hairstyle ( photo courtesy of Flickr- Wonderlane)

Hi everyone,
I hope you enjoyed my article Aborigines and Melanesians: Naturally Blonde Hair and Dark Skin. I really enjoy researching other cultures along with their natural hair. If you've missed any of my previous cultural articles, you may find a link to them in the "Related Articles" section of the page. Today, I am continuing with my cultural natural hair series by focusing on some of the traditional hairstyles of the African country of Eritrea.

Eritrea is a country that contains diverse ethnicities. The Eritrean traditional hairstyles are as diverse as their population. Many of their hairstyles consist of cornrows and braids. Much of African-American braid and cornrow hairstyles are influenced by the Eritreans. For example, African-Americans have a style that consists of small individual cornrows running into one big cornrow, similar to the photo below.

Small into large cornrow style (photo courtesy of Wikipedia- Hokuto lover)
The difference between African-American cornrow styles and Eritrean styles is the Eritrean styles represent their beliefs and/or phases in their lives. For example, The Tigrai women have certain styles that are worn to represent their marital status. Tigraionline.com states that unmarried girls may get the sides of their heads shaven. The article continues by saying that the women wear fully braided hairstyles when they are married. The braiding styles worn by these women have several names, including the following:
1. gilbrich- small cornrows towards the back
2. gamme- consists of cornrows going to the sides and back
3. segem- similar to gilbrich and rubbo
4. albaso- large cornrows going towards the back
5. rubbo- similar to segem and gilbrich

Based on the names and definitions, we can say that the women in the first picture above have a mixture of the gilbrich and albaso braids or cornrows. The hair is braided to the end of the neck and left to feather out.
Eritrean women wearing traditional hairstyle (photo cred: Flickr- Wonderlane)

Among the many Eritrean hairstyles, the fegiret and the qedamit are two of the most popular styles. In his book Eritrea, Dr. Mussie Tesfagiorgis says the fegiret and qedamit styles are styles that consists of braids braided "backwards and sidewards"(230). The fegiret styles consist of 7 braids going towards the front of the head and coming down both sides of the forehead.The one celebrity that comes to mind when I think of the fegiret syle is Alicia Keys. The style below is not quite the same as the fegiret, but the forehead braid is similar to the one in the fegiret hairstyle.

Alicia Keys with cornrows and forehead braid (photo cred: getbeautytoday)
Eritrean hairstyle (photo cred:  Eritrean Hairstyles Facebook page)

Eritrean children (photo cred: Flickr-Wonderlane)

  What other African-American styles might be influenced by the Eritreans?

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Further reading: Eritrea by Mussie Tesfagiorgis G. Ph.D