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African style week: threading

Avatar • Feb 16, 2009

(This is) a specifically Nigerian hairstyle, and it was my favourite hairstyle when I was a child. Don’t ask me why, I just insisted on it whenever it was time to do my hair for school.

It’s achieved by partitioning the hair kind of like if you were trying to do bantu knots, but in much bigger sections. There’s a special rubbery thread that I’ve only ever seen in Nigeria (it might be available in Texas since the place is [full of] Nigerians but I’m not sure) and this thread is used to wrap each section very quickly and tightly (it’s not so tight that it hurts you or damages your hair but it’s tight enough that it covers your hair completely with no spaces and makes your hair rigid enough to stand on its own). even watching the women do you hair in thread is fun because they have to thread it through their toes (again don’t ask me why, I just know that is how it’s done. It’s very, very cool. I’ll have to learn when I go back home so that when I get married I can do my daughter’s hair).

Anyway, when they finish the individual sections, your hair is sticking every which way and you look like a witch, then they pull all the individual sections and use the remaining thread to wrap them into different shapes… There are lots of other shapes not as dramatic as the one in the picture here, and your options are only limited by your hair stylist’s knowledge of different shapes and possibilities. I don’t think that there are many Americans that would know how to do this. But if you ever run into a Nigerian, they might know how. Or they might know someone who knows how. As far as I know the style isn’t popular outside Nigeria or West Africa, but it was THE hairstyle for little girls when I was little. Grown women also wear this hairstyle frequently, but the shapes that are acceptable for ladies are very different from those acceptable for little girls. For example, a little girl may be allowed to walk around with her hair in the all sticky out stage that you start with, and it’s okay because it’s a little-girl look, but a lady would never. She would have it pulled down or up into a more complex shape.

…I realized that on almost every natural hair blog, whenever people talk about African hairstyles, noone ever talks about thread, and it’s such a beautiful beautiful hairstyle with so many options from conservative to really daring.” ~ sugabelly

okay… i have a question: does the thread stay in your hair? that shiny stuff… is that thread? or is that hair?
somebody help me out… and what are your thoughts?

***update @ 9:13 a.m. … okay, i just found some more photos of threading on the internet… these are from a book called” J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Photographs” here is a link to more photo excerpts

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Jc
Jc
11 years ago

I’ll help you out lol. In Kenya, they would wrap the thread around the hair, so the shiny stuff is thread. This was popular for kids and to grow hair. The hair is separated out like for box braids but instead of braid, thread is wrapped around the hair. 

I think the popularity of this style faded out in the early 90’s. 

I personally didn’t like it but the girls (usually kids not adults in Kenya) who did use this style always had long hair. Low manipulation, hair protected from weathering effects.

Ebony Intuition
Ebony Intuition
11 years ago

I remember these hairstyles!!

Black girl with long hair
Black girl with long hair
11 years ago

@ Jc… i’ve also heard that threading hair promotes growth, and might be one of the best protective styles that exists

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

jessyfromparis
jessyfromparis
11 years ago

I cried when my mom told when she was younger she dis these kind of hairstyles and she showed me an old picture

Sugabelly
Sugabelly
11 years ago

The shiny stuff is the thread. It doesn’t feel like regular thread. It feels like some sort of super-fine, ultra-luxe rubber or something. It protects your hair completely and basically just allows it to grow. Like in the picture your hair grows long if you do the style frequently and that’s when you can really go crazy.

Deola
Deola
11 years ago

Yeah, my parents are Nigerian also. I had my hair threaded when I was younger. The black shiny stuff is the “thread.” Once again, it’s not like the type of thread you sew with or make lanyards out of. But my mom would actually then set my hair in curls so that it jazzed it up a bit and I believed it looked kinda like dreads. It’s also something women used to do if they had natural hair to kind of pull it straight, though it’s not tight like a braid. I think it would be hard to pull off in… Read more »

Lina40
Lina40
11 years ago

i guess I should add my naira to the list, lol == the thread is the sheen you see in the pic — mom used to do this to my hair and my sisters hair — i loved to bend it around all the time.. and when I had these was the short time in my childhood that I had long past the shoulder hair (permed though)..

Orchid
Orchid
11 years ago

So many Nigerians! lol I’m new to all this. I recently decided to ditch the relaxer and get back to my natural roots so to speak lol. I’m Ghanaian and I used to LOVE threading my hair. In twi, it’s called “Engina-gina hc”. I miss having my hair done like that. It seems all the African hair stylists here are more focused on extensions and weaves. Those pictures took me back. I would love to get my hair done like that again. I love your blog by the way! I don’t know what I would do without all this information!

Hijabi Apprentice
Hijabi Apprentice
11 years ago

Threading is also done in The Gambia. Right after I had my baby my cousin offered to come to the house and wrap my hair in thread. I opted for braids but I think I may ask her for thread this week when I see her.

Lita
Lita
11 years ago

I always associate it with children, and funnily, as a Nigerian, with Ghanaians!

Bronze Trinity
Bronze Trinity
11 years ago

I wonder if this is how they do those silky dreds? If I had not read this blog I would have thought it was their hair pulled really tight and twisted. That would be a good way to grow out the hair.

sundayzchild
sundayzchild
11 years ago

I still do this.. I use it to stretch my daughter’s hair. You can see a couple of examples in my fotki album.

GamineChic
GamineChic
11 years ago

LOL. Im Nigerian, and we always used to use the thread as children, i used to love it cos when the thread is removed, the hair feels so soft. .i would definately do this for my kids.

Sierra
Sierra
11 years ago

I’m Sierra Leonean and threading is done there too. My Mum used to do it for me when I was little and my hair was super soft and long.…then I got the relaxer/extensions bug. Sigh. You use a very strong type of thread and there is a correct technique to it, you have to make sure you cover the whole length of hair. It’s such a shame that it is not seen as fashionable anymore, because it really is like a miracle softening treatment.

Maguette
Maguette
11 years ago

I’m Senegalese and Guinean, and I had this done as a little girl. In Senegal its mostly done to little girls because its a style that can last long without having to do the girls hair all the time. And the thread is held in between the toes so as to not get it tangled. They do it so fast that they need to take the thread of the spool way in advance, thats why they put it between the toes. It also stretches the hair, and I guess people used to think it would make the girl’s hair grow.

sharon
sharon
11 years ago

I love this style and in fact I have decided to wear it. I can do it myself, see my pics in fotki at http://public.fotki.com/rarestone/ and then go to July-Dec 2009 album.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

hi guys! i have the thread here(in texas,personal use though).my sister came to visit from nigeria and i specifically told her to buy it for me cuz i remember it made my hair grow when i was younger! :)i’ll probably do a youtube vid one day!if anyone is interested in getting it email me at cute_garner@yahoo.com and i’ll see how to help.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

mo
mo
11 years ago

What do I think? Super-Bad! I’m mid-twenties, born in AustinTX and definitely remembered getting my hair threaded! It was awesome. I love it though I was later seduced by the want of barrets. Ha! 

@Anon 10:56
Do the video. I want to see it. Really, I want some thread. I’m not in TX right now…does anyone know where to buy it abroad? Thanks.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

D?s?? ?
D?s?? ?
11 years ago

I like that last pic posted. They kind of look like dreads, but their really nice.

Lola
Lola
7 years ago

Threading is not a Nigerian hairstyle, it is african! I have seen threading in Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, South Africa…

Pretina
Pretina
7 years ago

I’m Congolese and Angolan and my mother used to thread me and my sisters hair too ! It’s a style that as been popular in Congo & Angola for ages too. Now I only use this method to stretch my transitiong hair and it works wonderfully ! This style is not just known in western Africa, I think any african girls know this style !

trackback

[…] to stretch natural hair without a heat but it’s also a great way to style hair. If done in the traditional way, the threaded hair becomes “moldable” like foam rollers. South African hair […]

Clara
Clara
4 years ago

Threading is not only Nigerian. I’m from Cameroon and it is a very popular hairstyle. As a little girl, my mom used to thread my hair on Sundays for the school week. This is an African hairstyle worn all over the place in Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazza, Congo Kinshasha, etc…We basically wear the same style

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