July 21, 2010

The Roots of Dreadlocks.

Dreads: lifestyle? Or fashion trend?

A young man pulls up in a SUV, sunburned, Disco Biscuits blaring, brown matted hair leaking from his head.

In the 70’s reggae music exploded with popularity and a Rastafarian inspired clothing collection by Christian Dior followed suit, along with a new line of hair care products to help white people dread their hair.

All over the world, as far as we can see, humans have worn dreadlocks, with archeological ‘lock’ wigs and dreadlocked remains having been recovered in Egypt. The Druids, Aztec priests, SufisHindus and Senegalese are some of the world’s tribes that have at one time or another had a custom of matting their hair into pieces. Some of these tribes have spiritual and political reasons. For others, it’s cultural pride.


So why do so many hippies and new age narcissists sport dreads? Do they, like the Rastas, fear God and believe it is written in the living Word to never take a razor to their hair? The most often heard response to my question is met with a shrug and, “I dunno, it looks cool.

There are those who care for their ‘locks’ and understand that dreads are not in fact easier to maintain than normal hair. Many say they are more work than loose hair. Whatever the reasons, whether they are rebelling against normalcy or just think it looks cool, in taking care of their appearance, they are on some levels taking care of themselves like a dignified human being.

Poorly tended dreads do make powerful fashion statements: mold, bugs, nuggets.

With no attention or intention placed in their creation, it is difficult to see a lifestyle in these dreads, resembling more closely a sloppy afterthought. Or am I missing something, and poorly groomed dreads are actually an unconscious declaration of warriorship (refraining from cowardice by cultivating openness and compassion)?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GZK0dJeFHA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56gp9PE_4cc
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