The Head-Wrap: Badge Of Enslavement or Memento Of Heritage & Personal Freedom?

1 Posted by - December 1, 2017 - LATEST POSTS

Originally the head-wrap, or turban, was worn by both enslaved men and women. In time, however, it became almost exclusively a female accessory. In the photograph above, the women wear head-wraps, while the men wear hats.

For their white European masters, the slaves’ head-wraps were signs of poverty and subordination. Accounts of clothing distribution show that masters sometimes allotted extra handkerchiefs to their female slaves, ostensibly to be used as head coverings. In fact, in certain areas of the South, legislation appeared that required black women to wear their hair bound up in this manner.

The head-wrap, however, was more than a badge of enslavement imposed on female slaves by their owners. Embellishment of the head and hair was a central component of dress in various parts of Africa, particularly in West Africa. From the time European fabrics were made available to them, African women wore head-wraps similar to those worn by their enslaved counterparts in America. For these women, the wrap, which varied in form from region to region, signified communal identity. At the same time, the particular appearance of an individual head-wrap was an expression of personal identity.

In America, the head-wrap was a utilitarian item, which kept the slave’s hair protected from the elements in which she worked and helped to curb the spread of lice. Yet, as in Africa, the head-wrap also created community — as an item shared by female slaves — and individuality, as a thing unique to the wearer. Cassandra Stancil, enslaved in her youth, insisted that she never asked another woman how to tie her head-scarf. “I always figured I could do it,” she said, “I could try and experiment and if not get that, get something that I liked.”

The head-wrap was an object of oppression from one vantage point. But from the other, the perspective of the slave community, it was a vehicle of empowerment and a memento of freedom.

Source: Slavery and the Making of America . The Slave Experience: Men, Women & Gender | PBS

10 Comments

  • QUEEN AKEBA December 1, 2017 - 9:56 am Reply

    REALLY…..NO CAVE DWELLERS…IT WAS ALWAYS AND WILL BE PART OF OUR RICH CULTURE FROM OUR HOMELAND OF AFRIKA..PART OF OUR DRESS AND HISTORY…..YOU WERE THE FIRST SLAVES..NOT US….AND KNOW OUR TIME IS HERE TO MAKE POWER MOVES TO RETURN TO OUR HOMELAND AND TAKE OUR AFRIKA BACK BEFORE THE CAVE PEOPLE STEAL IT LIKE THEY DID AMMERRIKKA FROM OUR AFRIKAN TRIBE BETTER KNOWN AS INDIANS……

  • gamefly May 4, 2019 - 5:22 pm Reply

    Hi i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this post
    i thought i could also make comment due to this sensible article.

  • g May 11, 2019 - 11:17 pm Reply

    A person necessarily assist to make severely articles I would
    state. This is the very first time I frequented your web page
    and thus far? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular post extraordinary.

    Wonderful process!

  • g May 12, 2019 - 11:34 am Reply

    Hello my friend! I wish to say that this article is
    awesome, nice written and come with almost all vital infos.

    I would like to see extra posts like this .

  • minecraft download free May 13, 2019 - 9:48 am Reply

    Howdy terrific blog! Does running a blog such as this take
    a massive amount work? I’ve absolutely no expertise in programming however
    I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyways, if you have
    any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off topic nevertheless I just had to ask.
    Thanks!

  • mojang minecraft download May 15, 2019 - 7:31 pm Reply

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but,
    I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it expand over
    time.

  • EllEffemn June 3, 2019 - 8:13 am Reply

    Viagra Avant Apres viagra Cialis Standard Dosage

  • gamefly free trial June 6, 2019 - 6:02 am Reply

    Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out more details.

  • EllEffemn June 11, 2019 - 12:48 pm Reply

    Cialis Recreatif Anastrozole Benefits For Men Priligy Generico Chile cialis online Generic Provera Legally By Money Order Cheap 2.5 Mg Tadalafil

  • Hi, I check your new stuff like every week. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up!

  • Leave a reply