Hair Wigs, The Popular Fashion Accessory Traced Back To 1550 BC Africa


Diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend, but wigs can be a girl’s most valuable friend, especially when she is having a bad hair day. Wigs are the best accessory in a girls closet as they create variety and provide the luxury of switching things up every now and then.

Gone are the days when wigs were obvious and unnatural looking. There have been very modern inventions like closure wigs and lace frontals that have seen wigs look more natural and can pass for the wearer’s hair. But where exactly were these wonderful lifesavers invented?

Recently, archaeologist Ticia Verveer posted on her twitter page extensive facts on wigs and the history that links their origin to Africa. In her interesting thread of posts, she explains in detail the multi-tonal wigs of the ancient Egyptian town of Thebes.


These wigs were made of human hair of two colours with a lighter shade consisting of loose curls on the top with several straighter looking darker with long single braids attached underneath that reveal a two-tiered appearance. These wigs were presented in various styles and date as far back as 1550-1292 BC.

There are findings that lead to the existence of hair curlers purposely for these wigs. These small pieces of metal designed into curlers were heated at high degrees before use, just like hair curlers of today.

It is also interesting to note that certain pomades were made to maintain these hair pieces and keep them in place when worn, considering they were made from human hair and could easily fall apart. These pomades and hair creams were made from beeswax and resin. Beeswax is one of the most commonly used ingredients for lip balms and skin and hair products. Henna, which is still used till date was also known to be used as dye to maintain the colour of these wigs.

These wigs were not only worn by women in ancient times. Men were also wearing wigs, especially during festive occasions and celebrations, with those of men being more elaborate than those for the women which were more natural looking.

Further studies show that in ancient Egypt, it was a common act to wear wigs as both women and men had shaved heads and as such, wore them to protect their scalps from the heat of the sun. The elite was also identified by their elaborate hairpieces and heavy cologne in ancient times.

Wigs then migrated and were being used by Greek and Roman aristocrats of the renaissance era. It can also be noted that wigs in the Elizabethan era were a prerequisite for noble family regalia and were also used in theatre performances.

Referred to by their archaic name of periwigs in that era, wigs were mentioned in some Shakespearean books. Perukes or powdered wigs also became vastly popular due to the outbreak of syphilis in those times and wig wearing slowly became a trend that most kings took on.

Till date, men and women alike don wigs of various forms for various purposes such as costumes, to hide alopecia, baldness or thinning hair, as a fashion accessory, as a disguise and as a protective style for the hair.


Written by PH

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