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11 Stunning Traditional Nigerian Wedding Hairstyles

Avatar • Jun 28, 2015

In parts of Nigeria, it is not at all uncommon to have two weddings – a traditional one and a white wedding (or church wedding). The white wedding is usually modeled after the British with the bride wearing a white gown and the ceremony being held in church. In contrast, the traditional wedding is rooted in Nigerian culture involving particular customs and elements.  All of the details on the traditional wedding, which varies from region to region, could fill a book. Thus, instead, I’ll introduce you to some of the most beautiful hairstyles worn in a traditional Nigerian wedding and their significance.

Coral beaded hairstyles

Coral beads are worn by Edo and most Igbo brides as hair jewelry, headpieces, necklaces, bracelets, and/or body jewelry, depending on the custom. (A few other ethnic groups wear them as well.) Women in the bridal party may also wear the beads, but it is the bride who is most adorned with them to stand out from crowd as royalty. The coral beads represent beauty, status, wealth, and power. In some regions, the more coral beads the bride wears, the better.

Probably one of the most eye-catching parts of a traditional ceremony is the incorporation of coral beads as a headpiece or hair accessory. Depending on the bride and her customs, the hairstyle can range from very simple with a few coral beads for adornment to very intricate (especially for Edo brides). Here are some more beautiful examples:

Edo bride.  Image Source

Edo bride.
Image Source

Nigerian actress Mercy Johnson. Image Source

Nigerian actress Mercy Johnson.
Image Source

Igbo wedding. Image Source

Igbo bride.
Image Source

This quote perfectly captures the significance of the coral beads:

… Many scholars and lay people alike, suggest that these red coral beads which by themselves are regal are often gifts for the bride from her family and used to inform the bridegroom and his family of her worth or value to her own family. The woman wears the bead to showcase the wealth of her own family in a manner that informs the bridegroom and his people of her own significance prior to joining his family. It also showcases the joy the bride and her family feel for that day.” — Isioma’s Style Report

Gold-adorned hairstyles

The traditional Efik bride wears her hair braided and long for her wedding.  Her hair is then adorned with several extravagant gold hair combs.  The combination accentuates her beauty and embodies royalty.

Hair is very important in the Efik tribe. …  In the days of old the Efik women regarded their hair as a symbol of their femininity; therefore, they cherished their curly locks and were forbidden to cut them.  Efik women inherently had very long hair (before perm & relaxers was introduced). The only time that their hair was allowed to be cut was in the event that punishment was being met out. The severed locks were then braided to the ends of a bride’s hair thereby giving it the long length. Golden combs are used as a final decorative touch. Nowadays, they just use weave to capture the same look” — An Efik woman (Nairaland)

efik bride 5

Efik bride. Image Source

Efik bride 3

Efik bride. Image Source

Efik bride 2

Efik bride. Image Source

Plaited hair with shawl

Last, but not least, is the plaited hair of the Kanuri bride.  According to Nigerian Wedding, the woman’s hair must be loose before the wedding in order for the “groom’s aunties and grand aunties to wash it”.  Afterwards, the bride “performs her ablution” followed by the women blessing her.  She then “gives permission to plait her hair which is necessary for a Kanuri bride.”

Kanuri bride. Image Source

Kanuri bride.
Image Source

Kanuri wedding. Image Source

Kanuri wedding.
Image Source

bride3

Kanuri bride.
Image Source

Do you know of any other hairstyles in a Nigerian traditional wedding?  Please share below!

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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cryssi
cryssi
5 years ago

I didn’t know about these, but they are breath taking. If I find out my heritage traces back to a tribe of historic traditions, I’m definitely incorporating my favorite traditions into my future “white” wedding.

Cosita
Cosita
5 years ago

I’m in awe at the styles and of the great shine. I kind of wish my hair was black because it does seem to give better shine than brown. A lot of my friends and family dye theirs black but I have had negative experiences with permanent dye. very drying..Or maybe I just need to accept what I have. Any congrats to the brides.

HeavnsGirl
HeavnsGirl
5 years ago
Reply to  Cosita

You can dye your hair black with semi- or demi-permanent and get that shine!

Minimalassembly.tumblr
Reply to  Cosita

I used Aveda blue-black dye six years ago and it was pretty gentle. Also, I find that products with coconut, olive, argan, castor or avocado oil help to keep my naturally sandy black hair, a blue black shade. I don’t know the science behind it, but it works for me. When I went to an Indian salon for a henna conditioning (no color deposit), they even commented on how shockingly black my hair was and asked if I used hair dye. I also wear fedora type hats if I will be in the sun for a long time, otherwise my… Read more »

ama
ama
5 years ago

Beautiful!! Learned something new today

Pearl
Pearl
5 years ago

Great job on your research. I am Efik and our hair is very important at traditional marriage ceremonies. The second picture in the Kanuri section is actually of a Fulani tradition.

Chinwe
Chinwe
5 years ago
Reply to  Pearl

Thanks. I’ll remove that second picture. 😉

Minimalassembly.tumblr

Wow. All so beautiful. I am loving the Efik gold head piece and the Edo coral headpiece and necklace. Absolutely gorgeous. Also, the Kanuri is reminiscent of an Indian wedding.

Will
3 years ago

Africa is full of diversity, great traditional heritage and beauty of the world. Check out:copyfourpercent.com

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