Get Your Hair Did

Posted on 2010/04/30

Hair is an art form that has and continues to be an important part of self adornment throughout Africa. In fact, it is even bling at times when used to show social status, wealth and power in a particular society. The intricacies of this world and its techniques include everything from threading, braiding, twisting, cutting to shaving.

These images, above and below, taken mainly in West Africa during the early 1900’s are amazing, totally fierce examples of how beautiful and sculptural hair can be.

On a more contemporary note, Nigerian photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere magnificently documents the ephemeral world of hair in his photographic series, Hairstyles. As a young photographer in his early thirties he was passionate about recording moments of beauty, capturing traces of art in life.

His work pays homage to the hair artist or more aptly, the hair architect who through precise movements and techniques, forms hair into a work of art. Images shot mostly from the back emphasis the sculptural nature of the hair and head as canvas and drawing board. Ojeikere has taken more than 1,000 portraits of Nigerian women since the 60’s whom he’s encountered in daily living from the streets, at work or parties. Ojeikere had his first solo show outside of Nigeria in 2000 when sixty-four portraits were exhibited in the world renown Fondation Cartier, Paris.

More photographs of West African women from the 50’s ~ 60’s with some seriously tight tresses.


J.D. Okhai Ojeikere was born in 1930, in Ojum Emai Nigeria.

He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

J.D. Okhai Ojeiker is exclusively represented by Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.

[Images via Gallery 51, Hair In African Art In Culture, African Loxo]

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