Photograph Description 1
These images are from my series Irun Kiko. This on-going project investigates the contemporary African symbology of African hairstyles, in particular Irun Kiko. By exploring issues of identity, and looking at the translation of traditional African hair styles within the contemporary society, predominantly within fashion and pop culture trends.
Photograph Description 2
Irun Kiko is a conversational piece, looking into ways West African females either conform to or rebel against current European standards of beauty. Providing educational back-story for those without knowledge about the history of these styles, which are repeatedly taken out of its historical context, and used in contemporary society for purposes which they were not initially intended for.
Photograph Description 3
Before slavery and the colonisation of Africa, hair was a cultural statement; a sign of identification. It has been documented, that since the 15th century, different hairstyles reflected different tribes. In each of the many different countries it reflected personal, and social values; it was a sign of status in a community, sometimes even what immediate family one belong too.
Photograph Description 4
Women of the Nigerian Yorùbá tribe, traditionally wore three distinctive hairstyles; Irun Kiko (hair knotting with thread [threading]), Irun Didi (hair plaiting, without thread), and Irun Biba (hair braiding). These styles left many with the ability to decipher the status of each individual woman. These styles even went as far as to send messages to outsiders, as well as other family members.
Photograph Description 5
Nigerian households containing more than one wife resulted in said wives sending subliminal messages through hairstyles such as d kohin-sorogun, meaning “turn your back to the jealous rival wife” Also believed, was that braiding hair in certain styles could send messages to their God’s and deities, highlighting the deep cultural importance and prominence hair played during this period of time.
My identity as a Black British Nigerian plays a pivotal role in the direction of my photography. I work hard to develop photographs that speak to both me and others who can relate. My main aim is to provide information on the important and sometimes forgotten histories that shaped the counties of West Africa,also bringing attention to the effects of colonialism in and around Africa as a whole.
- Juliana Kasumu