Dec 1, 2011

The World’s Most Extraordinary Hairstyles

The World’s Most Extraordinary Hairstyles
Here are some more of the world's most extraordinary hairstyles and the hidden philosophies behind them :

Japan: Elaborate Hairdo of the Geisha and the Maiko.
The pulled-up hair and beautiful elaborate hairpins, hair combs, and hair ornaments of the geisha and the maiko, an apprentice geisha, have always fascinated foreigners and Japanese alike. Although mostly resembling a peach, a maiko's hairdo has several styles each of which indicates the length of period of apprenticeship she has attained so far. While a maiko uses her own hair, a geisha usually wears a geisha wig. The highly ornamented hairstyle involves a big sacrifice on the part of the geisha. The artful entertainer has to sleep by resting her head on a wooden pillow/ head support to keep her beautiful hairstyle intact. A geisha gets training to sleep in this painful position by pouring rice around the base of the support. If during sleep her head rolls off the support, her hair, thickly pomaded, will be all covered with rice grains. Then she will have to go through the tiresome process of hairstyling again. That's not the only sacrifice. Hard hair pulling, the use of wax to stiffen the hair and also the use of hair ornaments (which often symbolize status) usually leave a small bald patch on top of the geisha's head.

France: Marie Antoinette's Fancy Hairstyle. 
In the mid-18th century, women in France began to “pouf” (raise) their hair with pads and pomade, a hairstyle which was supposed to go with their oversize luxurious gowns. The French Queen's hairdressers and hairstylists outfitted the extravagant queen with a coiffure nearly as high as one meter. The poufed hairstyle was all the rage all over Europe, along with hair ornaments and sculpturings which showed current events. Hair would be accessorized, stylized, cut into defining scenes, and modeled into shapes and objects ranging from French naval vessels, rebel in honor of the American Revolutionary War. The Queen's most celebrated coiffure was the "inoculation" pouf, which she wore to publicize her success in persuading the King to be vaccinated against smallpox.

Southwest China: Long-horned Miao.
The unique hairstyle of this Changjiao Miao tribal minority has earned them the name of long horns (changjiao). On special occasions, like festivals, holidays and market days, the women of the tribe wear “gigantic horns” symbolizing honor, beauty, and family pride. The ornament imitates water buffalo or oxen’s horns because these animals are an integral part of their rural life. The hairdo is also seen as a means to pay homage to the power of nature and the animal kingdom. Young Miao women have a more intricate and elaborate hairstyle than older women, achieved with the help of other female family members. First of all, they stick of wooden horn (u-shaped) to the head and secure it with a piece of white cord. Then they start wrapping the horn with hair, their own and the hair of their ancestors (they can incorporate up to four generations of the women's ancestral hair into the coiffure). After that, they add some linen and wool and finally secure the great hair bun with a white ribbon.

Namibia: Ocher and Butterfat Coated Plaits of the Himba, a Member of a Semi-nomadic Tribe.
Dry hair is definitely a turnoff for Himba males. This is why female Himbas make their hair look glossy by smearing it with butterfat and ocher paste. Glossy red ocher hair is seen as a necessary element of ideal beauty. The way Himba females do their hair also carries a special meaning. Young Himba girls plait their hair into two or more plaits (ondato). Then they bring the plaits forward, over their eyes, as they reach puberty. Adult women wear many thick ondatos.

India: The Sikh's Long Hair and Turban. 
All Sikh males have a notable appearance: long hair, tied up in a knot, and covered with a five-meter cotton cloth turban. This typical headdress is a religious symbol, seen as a way to confirm the acceptance of God's will and to teach humanity. A Sikh must treat his hair as a gift from God and keep the hair intact. Having long hair doesn't translate into messy or unmanageable and knotty/ deadlock hair, like what normal Rastafarian hair looks. A small comb, called kanga, is used to keep the long hair tidy. In fact, the small item is so important that it's also a symbol of faith in Sikhism.

China: Manchurian Pigtail.
Indigenous Han males, like those we often see in Chinese films, are often depicted sporting a long braid queue or pigtail. The pigtail itself is actually not of Chinese origin. In fact, traditional adult Hans did not cut their hair because growing long hair was considered a part of filial piety, as was literally said by Confucius: "The body, hair and skin are inherited from one's parents; do not dare damage them." The distinctive hairstyle originates from a Mongolian tribe called Manchus, who conquered the Hans of China. 

During their occupation (1644-1911) the conquerors ordered the Hans to copy a Manchurian hairstyle by dangling a long braid at the back and shaving the frontal hair of the head. Those who broke the order would face dire consequences. While some historians note that this distinctive hairstyle was a symbol of subjugation, others claim that the pigtail hanging from the back of the head resembles a horse tail, symbolizing the endurance and speed of a horse, which had brought the Manchus victory over the Hans. Another opinion has it that the hunter tribe shaved their heads in this way to avoid hair from blocking their view when they went hunting.
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