Word of the Day: Rastafarian (Dreadlocks)

I read in a Wall Street Journal article a comment that a Yale professor and his wife were harassed when someone left a box on their doorstep containing a sombrero and a Rastafarian wig. I knew what a sombrero was, but what was a Rastafarian wig?

The short answer is that the wig was of dreadlocks, and my search led to an entire culture new to me, a culture beyond NFL running backs.

dreadlocks“Rastafarian” refers to the Rastafari religion of Ethiopia whose followers claim Haile Selassie was a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Dreadlocks are symbolic of the Lion of Judah (the Messiah, I think) and were popularized in this country in the 1970s when they became a fashion statement by Jamaican reggae musicians.

The image of the Lion of Judah comes from Revelation 5:5 that says, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and so he will open the scroll and its seven seals.” (The scroll presumably contains the secrets of the future which cannot be revealed until its seven seals are broken, one-by-one.)

The hair style was common from ancient times in many cultures, and the ringlets depicted on ancient Greek and Roman statues are probably dreadlocks. Sampson’s strength was thought to come from his seven dreadlocks.

The style was popular with the early Christians.  James, the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was said to have had them down to his ankles. The style is not limited to Afro-textured hair and appears in Hindus, Buddhists, ancient Greeks, Spartans, Aztecs, and many other cultures.

Dreadlocks are simply a practical method of controlling the hair other than constant brushing, and only occasionally symbolize a particular belief or lifestyle. Dreadlocks can be formed by braiding or by a technique called “twist and rip,” as well as backcombing and rolling.

All of the techniques seem to take extraordinary time and effort.  Many cultures today and in the past do not have access to scissors or clippers, and some method of controlling long hair is needed.

I am clearly out of my element discussing this.  A wig would be the only way for me.  Anything  I can tell you is necessarily second-hand information.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in Popular culture, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

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