Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Locs is a hairstyle that gained popularity through the Rastafari movement in Jamaica in the 1930s. It was later spread through artists like Bob Marley. The Rastafari movement was highly influenced by activists, like Marcus Garvey, who believed Black people worldwide needed to unite and repatriate to Africa. Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie I, born Tafari Makonnen, also called Ras (king) Tafari, considered himself a descendant of biblical King David. Many Rastas regarded him as the human embodiment of the Messiah who would free black people.
Some Rastas wore their dreadlocks as a symbol of ‘the lion of Judah’ found on the Ethiopian flag. Others wore it due to biblical passages that encourage hair growth, or out of political motivation, to emphasize their black identity and fight against oppression.
The spiritual meaning of locs can be found in different cultures around the globe and trace back to ancient civilization. It is believed that the spirits leave the body through the head. By twisting and locking the hair, a person can gain higher awareness, and unfold their full potential as human beings. Locs are also considered antennas that symbolize a connection to god, which enables a person to be guided throughout their life journey.
There are different theories on the origin of locs. Today it is believed that locs originated in Ancient Egypt (Khemet), where the first archeological evidence of loc wearing mummies have been discovered. It is said that the length of the locs were associated with power.The same spiritual reason for wearing locs can be seen in India, where Sadhu Hindu priests wear locs. In Ancient Indian vedict scriptures the deity Shiva is depicted with the so-called “jaTaa” hairstyle meaning a twisted lock of hair. This belief was also evident in Ancient Ethiopia where it is said that priests of the Coptic religion as far back as 500 BC used to wear locs for a spiritual reason.
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