The African Diaspora,
Ethiopianism, and Rastafari
Bull Bay, Jamaica
Perhaps the most familiar feature of Rastafari culture is the growing
and wearing of dreadlocks, uncombed and uncut hair which is allowed to knot
and mat into distinctive locks. While one theory regarding the origin of
the locks attributes them to Hindu holy men who came to Jamaica as indentured
laborers in the late 19th century, another theory traces their appearance
to the 1952 Mau-Mau Revolt in Kenya. Mau-Mau leaders wore dreadlocks.
Rastafari emulated the Mau-Mau both in their appearance and their resistance
to Colonial rule. Rastafari regard the locks as both a sign of their African
identity and a religious vow of their separation from the wider society.
photograph by Jake Homiak, Smithsonian Institution
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