The Lost Hairstyles of Nigeria Past

JD-Okeijere-6These days many women don’t consider themselves fashionable unless they’re weighed down by the latest 16-inch Brazilian weave-on made from 100% human hair. As an article in the UK Guardian points out, this attitude cuts across class and ethnicity. But it wasn’t always like this.

In the past, women considered their natural hair to be the epitome of stylishness and special effort was made to create elaborate, gravity-defying styles using braids and thread. In the late 1960s photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikere began documenting women’s hairstyles as a way to preserve a traditional art form which was rapidly declining in popularity.

Today, his collection “Hair Style” which boasts over 1,000 photos of striking hairdos from the 60s, 70s and 80s stands as a testament to a forgotten era. Speaking to The Liberator magazine, The octogenarian photographer said he is constantly on the lookout for “singular, truly exceptional creations” wherever he finds them “be it on the street, at work, or at parties”.

“…hairstyling is a form of art. When you see a hairstylist do this or that, every single movement is precise and rapid. She creates a hairstyle the way a sculptor would work — from nothing. It’s fascinating.”

Below is a gallery of some of his works, and a fuller exhibition can be found at Fifty One Fine Art Photography, which displayed some of his work earlier this year.

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