In many African cultures, a woman’s hairstyle has often had varying social implications – mattering both socially and individually. Traditionally, in many African cultures, hair was usually dressed according to local culture complying with aesthetical standards. Beyond adornment and the aesthetics of identity, in cultural aspects hair has had a sacred element perceived as a substance with “supernatural power and spiritual import”.
Often, cultural beauty, health and identity are intertwined - even in contemporary societies. In today’s highly globalized world deeply impacted by history, the politics of Black African hair, especially in western spaces, has many multi-layered social implications that can be both complex and deeply politicized. Outside of its traditional significance and the appreciation of beauty within whatever culture a specific hair style or type is standard, African women’s hair has and continues to be subject to shallow judgments and critique based on mainstream media’s Euro-centric standards of beauty that comes from the “ubiquity of whiteness”. Nevertheless, it seems that times are changing as a globally penetrating movement towards reclaiming one’s own authentic beauty continues to express itself through women in both Africa and the Diaspora. As adorning the head takes on the face of (re)claiming identity by purely wearing hair in its natural state of Afros and hair braided styles, the entire world is slowly having no option but to reframe their approach to the inherent beauty and diversity of black hair.
Culturally, with its traditional significance, adorning the head implies more than merely a hairstyle of conevenience. Often pointing to the socio-economic status and characteristic of the wearer, as well as the link to the wearer’s culture, “the cultural significance and roots of braiding can be traced back to the African tribes. The braid patterns signify the tribe and help to identify the member of the tribe.“
As braiding styles continue to gain popularity in the present, hair grooming, for the most part exposes modern age artistic designs that borrow from the past. In some African cities and parts of the Diaspora, though some of the cultural implications of hair such as braiding for ceremonial purposes such as weddings, and rites of passage rituals, patterns that signify ones ethnic group, and perhaps wealth and status, have been retained; for the most part, the traditional significance is less salient.
In the current trend, using synthetic or human hair, if possible, the wearer finds the most artistic braider or artisan of style that can sculpt a ‘do of the wearer’s choice. In general, sporting a braided style appears to be more of a fashion affirmation; while fashioning the body – physical appearance – is employed for self-expression and sole identity formation, with the exception of those who adorn themselves based on the conduct of a society, community or social group they belong to. On the flip side, for some people of African descent residing in the Diaspora, braiding are considered as forms of “protesting standards of Eurocentric ideals of beauty, and both maintaining and retaining their links to Africa and African cultural traditions – claiming ancestral memory”.
No matter the meaning or purpose for how braids are worn, there is one universal that remains consistent in relation to hair braiding. The process of braiding offers a climate for the intimate exchanging of stories, and of bonding from one generation to the next, or between the worlds of the braider and client. It is symbolic to where women ritually share hushed or not so hushed stories in these spaces. In that way, hair has always had it’s own stories.
I love sunsets because each one is unique. All of these are taken inside my home. It’s interesting to see how they differ from each other, which is why I love to photograph them. I hope everyone likes them!
Project plans? Vacations? Due dates? Just write them on the wall!
With DiG's wall planner you can mark days or weeks easily by hand and label important dates with one of the 100 Post-it notes. The five folds of the planner make the grid for the year and the field for each month. The reduced design is fully functional: you will find numbered weeks and labeled weekdays to make it easy to navigate through year a full of things to plan.
Birthdays, anniversaries and other dates: This wall calender reminds you of the really important things in life – and it does it beautifully simple. It comes with 100 Post-it notes, each with a hole to mark and label single days throughout the year. The number of reminders and notes will grow over the year and turn the wall calender into a great, stylish and individual wall object.
An 8-week-old golden retriever puppy named Boatswain accomplished the unimaginable, becoming the youngest dog in history to capture his own tail.
“He’s a prodigy,” says Abe Brenner, a golden retriever trainer and historian. “I’ve seen goldens with countless dog years on Boatswain who whirl and whirl after their tail to no avail. I’m flabbergasted by his early success.”
No word yet on whether Boatswain will compete in tailchasing for the 2016 Puplympics.
THE GAZE (art created by contributing artist Danielle)
My name is Danielle, I’m 16 years old and I’m based a little bit north of Toronto, Ontario. I draw mostly eyes and faces in general because I find it amazing to see a person come to life as I draw them. I feel as though eyes hold a lot of emotions and just a tiny bit of change in them can change the entire mood. I love to paint with acrylics because they have such a large range of colours and there are so many different ways to use them. Art is my passion, and I don’t like to tell the future, but it is what I dream of doing after high school.
You can see more of my art on my blog or get to know more about me through my instagram @danihelle.
While being there for the summer, I decided to take as many photos as possible to try and capture the essence of my home country, how beautiful the landscapes are, how warm the people are and our love for the ocean and the beach. I think it is important for young African artists like us, especially the ones living overseas, to be proud of our roots but also to show through our work that the real Africa is not the one that the western media shows. - Yannis, 19
This San Francisco based studio was founded in early 2007 by mother-daughter duo, Joan and Emily Sugihara. At the beggining they were working form NY (Emily) and San Diego (Joan).
They created BAGGU with the goal “to make it affordable to switch from disposable to reusable shopping bags” and to make a bag that fit in the purse for unexpected errands, in other words, to make a beautifully designed reusable bag which can replace the use of 300 to 700 disposable bags.
In this, spring collection, they made a step forward and introduced more prints, so here they are - BAGGU animals <3
Revisiting the “African-Urban-Man” Style: Sapeurs by Amira Ali.
“White people invented the clothes, but we make an art of it”, a phrase commonly used and referred to the Sapeurs, Congo-Brazzaville’s self-confessed modern day dandies. The phrase coined by Sapeur godfather Papa Wemba.
Sapeurs, French slang for “dressing with class” take their name from the acronym SAPE, for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes. Gentlemen’s club for the dapper, it’s a sartorial subculture consciously emulating its colonizer, layered with ambience and new expressions. The Sapes profess “La Sape” is an “art for ‘real’ gentlemen”. Living by an agreed aesthetical rule, their savior faire and modish use of the body and expensive dress with meticulously matched colors is a radical yet subtle form of protest, which in recent years has received international attention. Seemingly, the symbol of the Sapeur par excellence receives more notice on its aesthetics and less on meaning.
In this extravagance buzz, the Sape’s fashion statement and bold flair is producing a post-modern phenomenon of the “African-urban-man” style and elegance. Sapologists, “gentlemen who live by a creed with a strict code of honor and morality”, are said to contest circumstances poised through the beautification effect of chic dressing. A belief that “it’s not the cost of the suit that counts, it’s the worth of the man inside it.” A performance and embodiment of sophistication, Sapeurs are prototypes of vibrant icons consciously portraying the embracing of a subcultural lifestyle.
Fascinated by this culture, the western world, beyond its ahistorical representation of Africa, has taken on the Sape as its new ‘western’ media phenomenon. In 2011, though an oddly placed feature the Sapeurs stole the spotlight in Solange Knowles’ “Losing You” video, shot in South Africa. But discovered long before Solange’s video, they have been introduced to the world colorfully as a ‘society of tastemakers and fashionably elegant’ stylistic inspiration to photographers.
The latest is the Guinness advertisement campaign; a break from the prototypical brand marketer’s portrayal of Africa, its approach takes on the exposé of the urban-debonair-man. A post-modern embodiment of style and sophistication, and a commitment to the “Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo” (La Sape), yet again, they add style, charm and vividness to a campaign that would otherwise be ordinary. These gentlemen referred to by Stephen O'Kelly, Guinness’ marketing director for Western Europe, as a “truly inspiring and unique group of men” are the featured ‘stars’ of Guinness’ recent advertising campaign, “Made of More”.
A fashionable depiction, the Guinness ad artistically captures the extravagance of the everyday working Sapeurs as they transform from their day job to a cigar wielding, European-three-piece suit, silk socks, and fedora wearing men. Aesthically well crafted, a fine image is displayed of the urban-elegant expensive-looking of gentlemen. Yet, on the far side of this captivating documentation and splendid dress there is another side to the story of the Sapeurs living in Bakongo. These men are described as not being economically wealthy, and in fact some are said to rent items of clothing in the name of ‘ambianceur’ and fashion ‘worshipping’ or even take small fee(s) in exchange for a photographer’s glory –a snapshot of their dapper image. So, besides the undoubtedly rich spirit it may be a wonder, “what of what of the image we see of the Sapeurs is ‘true to life’?” A contrast of their ‘real-life’ far removed from our sight, the world is nonetheless left to experience the Sapeurs through the lens of photographers and cinematographers who bring out their mode par excellence alive. And perhaps, such depictions can be representational of the (re) construction attached to African cultural movements that permeates the western mainstream landscape.
All photos by Ruddy Roye :: a Brooklyn (New York) based photographer specializing in editorial and environmental portraits, and photojournalism. You can find more of his work here
RAIN / HAIL / SHINE (photographed by contributor Anaïs)
My name is Anaïs Baker and I reside in Melbourne, Australia. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the world of photography and aesthetics. Tumblr became a great artistic outlet for me and as of recently, I have created an online collection of my own photography.
If you would like to give my portfolio a little look, click here.
This shoot is of the gorgeous blogger Chessie from freshlypickked.com (blog // instagram). Click on the images for a higher resolution and use your arrow keys to navigate.
Meet the sitta shai, or the Sudanese “tea ladies”.
Walk through the streets of Khartoum, and you will find these women in each corner, dressed in their colorful thawbs and covers. Beside them, a makeshift kitchen is set up to serve you flavored coffee and tea throughout the day.
And the flavors vary. Numerous jars of tea (black, hibiscus, Mahareb) and coffee can be accompanied with herbs and spices like mint, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.
The chatter of the day’s gossip can be heard rising above the tea’s steam as customers sip close by.
To learn how to make Sudanese cinnamon tea, click here