Recently, our founder Wendy Iles received an email from a dear friend that really inspired us. The email described a recent visit to Cambodia with a stop off at Angkor Wat, the largest religious temple in the world. What they found so intriguing is that there are approximately 2000 figures of Apsara Dancers or Heavenly Dancers. During the tour, the guide mentioned that each of the dancers wears a different hairstyle, and that they immediately thought of Wendy. We found this to be a very inspiring piece, and felt compelled to compare then and now. In this journal we are sharing Braids And Hairstyles Through The Centuries Still Relevent Today. We hope you enjoy this hair journey through time as much as we did.
Angkor Wat was built by Suryavarman II (r 1112–52), it is the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods. This temple is the heart of Cambodia, and the pride they have for this magical place is very strong. Have you visited this magical temple? Here we are comparing some of the braids and hairstyles from then to now.
Many of you may have seen a version of this statue over the years. What instantly comes to mind when we see this, is the modern day chignon hairstyle variations. A classic style that made its way through the centuries. A standard chignon, draws from this inspiration, as well as the two more elaborate hairstyles shown below.
The next Braids And Hairstyles Through The Centuries Still Relevant Today are braided rows. Pictured first are two Apsara carvings from Angkor Wat, followed by a modern variation created by the hair team for Alexander McQueen for one of his shows. Notice the inspiration taken from centuries earlier.
The elaborate details of the above carvings are mimicked below in a modern day variation. A great way to pay homage to the ancient cultures.
African Tribal Braiding
African braiding is an old form of art that is a part of Africa’s tribal customs. Every region and tribe in Africa have its own distinct style of hair braiding that is handed down from generation to generation. Today, there are many interesting ethnic hair braiding techniques to make every head unique. Here, you can see how the hairstyles in the carvings have similarities to the Africa’s tribal braiding customs. If you want to see more about African Tribal Braiding, you can look back at a previous journal post of ours called The Modern Braid For Ethnic Hair 2017.
Isn’t it incredible to see the similarities, even down to the ball shaped braids that fill this creation with intricate detail? Take a look at more from the African tribal customs. To create these braids takes great discipline and control. We have found our Iles Formula Finishing Serum to be an excellent product to use for creating braided hairstyles, as it helps to control the hair while braiding.
Hair artist Shani Crow
Dread locks are another type of Braids And Hairstyles Through The Centuries Still Relevant Today. In the carving below from Angkor Wat, it is evident that modern day dreadlocks pull inspiration from these cultural hairstyles of the past. Even the back drop has similarities. Can you think of another style that would be inspired by these carvings?
In the carving below, you will see that there is a ripple or rolled feel for the hair. Not only does this remind us of hair from Elizabethan times, but also in modern times. Even today, a variation of rolls are being used to create casual or dressed up hairstyles. Take a look at the comparisons here and try to think of hairstyles that would pull from these inspirations.
Cleopatra is not part of the Angkor Wat, however, we wanted to also add her into this journal, because if you are tuned into the hairstyles of today, you can definitely see that inspiration has come from Cleopatra. Cleopatra was the last active ruler of the kingdom of Egypt. Here, we share a modern day version of Cleopatra’s hair.
It is always so amazing to look to different cultural backgrounds and time periods for inspiration in regards to modern hairstyles. Are there any that pop into your mind? Share them with us in the comments below. We love to see and hear from you. Our challenge for you, when you are skimming your favorite magazines and editorial shoots, or watching celebrities on the red carpet, or at fashion weeks around the world, tune into their hairstyles, and where they have pulled their inspirations from. More frequently than not, they have pulled from some culture of the past.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey through time as much as we have.