History of Cornrows

What a wonderful find. This website, The Transformation Geometry and Iteration in Cornrow Hairstyles, takes you through the history of cornrows as an ancient African artform that crossed the Atlantic with the slaves and somehow managed to survive to the present day.


There are a vast variety of traditional African styles, ranging from complex curves and spirals to the strictly linear composition of  this 1939 Dan style from Côte d’Ivoire. The date of this photo, 1939, helps remind us that cornrows were invented long before the civil rights era in the the United States.

The slide show is full of pictures and also provides a video tutorial on how do do cornrows. Now I’ll warn ya, the tutorial sucks. This site also attempts to show you how the patterns used to create the styles are based on mathmatical equations and such. Ok…I’m extremely math challenged so one look at the grid design softward, and it made me break out in hives. Well, not really but that’s just too complicated for me. Nevertheless, I think the history slide show is well worth a visit to the site. Enjoy!

2 Responses to “History of Cornrows”
  1. Yve Bissainthe says:

    I am Canadian of Haitian background. I lived in Haiti until I was 10 yrs old. Cornrows to me is a poor/orphan girl hair style. My mother used to do my hair every morning before school, with ribbons and barrettes. The poor/orphan girl would adorn the cornrows style for several days I have never had my hair cornrowed and never like the style for what it represents where I came from.

  2. Tazinc says:

    To Yve Bissainthe: If you check back in history cornrows or “braids” was NEVER considered a poor/orphan girl hairstyle. It was a symbol of royalty & esteem by tribesman and woman in Africa. Whereas now it is more known as hairstyling… its history has a lot more weight than you are giving it credit for. I’m sorry you feel it is an poor/orphan way of doing hair. My suggestion, read up a little more on the subject…it also has math based logic to it (if you care to delve into it).

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