History of Braids in Europe (2023)

The origin of braids in Europe

In 1908, the Venus of Willendorf found in Austria is the oldest known artifact depicting braids, estimated to date back to 28,000 to 25,000 BCE. Here's an overview of the history of braids in Europe:

  1. Ancient Times: Braiding can be traced back to ancient civilizations in Europe. The Celts, who inhabited areas of modern-day Ireland, Scotland, and parts of Europe, were known to wear intricate braided hairstyles. They often incorporated various accessories such as beads, feathers, and jewels into their braids.

  2. Medieval Period: During the Middle Ages, braids were prevalent among noblewomen and royalty. Elaborate braided hairstyles were seen as a symbol of wealth and status. Women would often wear braids that were tightly woven and decorated with ribbons, gold threads, and even precious gemstones.

  3. Renaissance Era: In the 15th and 16th centuries, braids continued to be popular among European women. Until the recent past, women in Europe preferred to go ahead with the traditional box braids. However, they got bored with the same look and feel delivered by the traditional box braids. As a result, they came across the need to do something new. That’s where they thought about making some variations to the traditional braiding techniques. This gave life to new forms of braiding such as French braids and Dutch braids. The braids were often worn as crowns or encircling the head, giving a regal appearance. The influence of Renaissance art and fashion can be seen in many paintings and portraits of the time, depicting women with elaborately braided hairstyles.

  4. 18th and 19th Centuries: Braids fell out of fashion for a period during the 18th century. Women started wearing powdered wigs and elaborate hair instead. However, braids made a comeback in the 19th century, particularly during the Romantic era. Braided hairstyles became more relaxed and natural-looking, with loose and flowing braids becoming fashionable.

  5. 20th Century: In the early 20th century, braids remained popular but were often worn in simpler styles. French braids, where the hair is divided into three sections and woven together, became a common choice. The bohemian and hippie movements of the 1960s and 1970s brought a resurgence of interest in braided hairstyles, with individuals embracing long, flowing braids as a symbol of freedom and nonconformity.

  6. Modern Times: Braids have remained a popular hairstyle choice in Europe to this day. There has been a resurgence of interest in braids, with a variety of styles gaining popularity. From classic French braids to Dutch braids, fishtail braids, and intricately braided hair, people continue to experiment with different braiding techniques and incorporate braids into their style.

Throughout history, braids have served both functional and aesthetic purposes. They have been used to keep hair neat and out of the way, to signify cultural or social status, and as a form of self-expression.

How braids came into Europe

Traders from Greece were the people who introduced braids into Europe. They have been trading goods with Egypt. Along with that, they got to know about braids. This took place during 3500 BC. Then people in Egypt started exporting box braids to the people in Greece. From Greece, the braids were sent to other parts of the continent as well.

The exact origins of braids in Europe are difficult to pinpoint, as hairstyling techniques and cultural practices have evolved over thousands of years. Here are some possible ways braids came into Europe:

  1. Migration and Cultural Exchange: Throughout history, different cultures have migrated and interacted with one another, leading to the exchange of ideas and practices. Braiding techniques and hairstyling traditions were likely brought into Europe through these movements. For example, the Celts, who inhabited regions of Europe, including the British Isles, had a tradition of braiding their hair, which may have influenced local European cultures.

  2. Ancient Trade Routes: Europe has been a crossroads of trade routes for centuries, connecting it with various cultures and civilizations. For instance, the Silk Road, an ancient trade network linking Europe with Asia, facilitated the exchange of goods, ideas, and customs. It's possible that braiding techniques were introduced to Europe through contact with cultures along these trade routes.

  3. Ancient Influences: The ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Egypt had sophisticated hairstyling traditions that included braiding. The Roman Empire, in particular, had a significant influence on European culture, spreading its practices and fashion trends. Roman women often wore braided hairstyles, and these styles were likely adopted and adapted by people in different regions of Europe.

  4. Viking Influence: During the Viking Age (late 8th to 11th centuries), Scandinavian seafarers, known as Vikings, conducted extensive voyages and raids throughout Europe and beyond. They had distinct hairstyles, including intricate braids, which were often adorned with metal jewelry and beads. The Viking influence may have contributed to the popularity of braided hairstyles in certain parts of Europe.

It's important to note that the development and spread of braids in Europe were not limited to a single event or influence. Instead, it was a gradual process influenced by cultural interactions, migrations, trade, and the transmission of ideas over time. As different cultures and civilizations interacted, braiding techniques evolved and became integrated into European hairstyling traditions, eventually becoming a significant part of European culture.

German Braids History

The history of braids in Germany is closely intertwined with the broader history of braiding in Europe. While Germany has its unique cultural influences and traditions, the development of braids in the region shares similarities with the overall European context. Here is an overview of the history of braids in Germany:

  1. Ancient Times: Germanic tribes, including the Celts and the Germanic peoples, inhabited the area that is now Germany during ancient times. These tribes had a tradition of braiding their hair, often incorporating accessories and ornaments. Braids were used for both functional and aesthetic purposes, providing practicality and symbolizing cultural identity.

  2. Medieval and Renaissance Periods: During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, braids continued to be popular in Germany, particularly among noblewomen and the upper classes. Elaborate braided hairstyles were seen as a symbol of wealth and social status. Women would often wear braids adorned with ribbons, jewels, and other decorative elements.

  3. Folk Traditions: Germany has a rich history of folklore and regional traditions, which often include distinct hairstyling practices. In certain areas, traditional braided hairstyles were part of local costumes and cultural celebrations. These braids varied in style and were influenced by specific regional customs and aesthetics.

  4. 19th and 20th Centuries: In the 19th century, as with the rest of Europe, braids went out of fashion for a period. However, they regained popularity in the 20th century, especially during the romanticized folk revival movements. Traditional German braided hairstyles, such as "Heidi braids" (two braids wrapped around the head), gained recognition and were embraced as a symbol of German heritage.

  5. Contemporary Trends: In modern times, braids continue to be a part of hairstyling trends in Germany, as in many other countries. People experiment with various braiding techniques, such as French braids, Dutch braids, and fishtail braids, creating diverse looks for different occasions.

Dutch Braids History

Dutch braids originated in Europe, specifically in the region that is now known as the Netherlands. The hairstyle gained popularity during the 17th century, a period often referred to as the Dutch Golden Age when the Netherlands was a major center of trade, commerce, and artistic development.

Influence of Dutch Fashion: During the Dutch Golden Age, braided hairstyles were fashionable among women in the upper classes. The Dutch Republic was known for its prosperity and distinctive fashion trends. Dutch women often wore intricate braided hairstyles, including Dutch braids, which were characterized by their unique "inverted" appearance compared to the traditional French braids.

Historical Art and Portraits: The prevalence of Dutch braids during the 17th century can be observed in many paintings and portraits of the time. Artists, such as Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals, depicted women with elaborate braided hairstyles in their works. These artworks provide a glimpse into the fashion and hairstyling trends of the period and highlight the popularity of Dutch braids.

Continued Popularity and Evolution: While Dutch braids gained prominence in the 17th century, they have continued to be popular throughout the centuries. The style has evolved, with variations and adaptations reflecting changing fashion trends and personal preferences.

Global Recognition: In recent years, Dutch braids have gained significant popularity globally. The rise of social media and online tutorials has made it easier for people to learn and recreate different braiding styles, including Dutch braids. The term "Dutch braids" has become widely recognized and used internationally to describe the specific braiding technique of weaving the hair under the central section, rather than over as in traditional French braids.

French Braids History

French braids, also known as French plaits, have a history that is closely tied to braiding traditions in Europe. Here's a summary of the history of French braids:

Origins: French braids originated in Europe, although the exact time and place of their inception are not precisely known. It is likely that French braids, as a variation of braiding techniques, emerged during the medieval period or possibly earlier.

Popularity in France: French braids gained popularity in France, and their name is attributed to their association with French culture. French women embraced this braiding style, which became particularly fashionable during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Hairstyling Traditions: French braids were embraced as a stylish and elegant way to arrange and control long hair. They were often seen as a formal or special occasion hairstyle, worn by women of different social classes. French braids allowed for creativity in weaving and interlacing the hair, resulting in a sleek and sophisticated look.

Have you ever been confused about the difference between a French braid and a Dutch braid? They may look similar, but there are actually some key differences between the two braiding techniques. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, our guide will help you understand these two classic braids in no time.

Viking Braids History

Viking braids, also known as Norse braids or Viking hairstyles, were prevalent among the Norse people during the Viking Age, which spanned from the late 8th century to the 11th century. Here are some key points about the history of Viking braids:

  1. Cultural Significance: Braided hairstyles held cultural and symbolic significance for the Vikings. Braids were not only a practical way to manage long hair during their seafaring expeditions but also represented aspects of their identity, social status, and warrior culture.

  2. Intricate Styles: Viking braids were known for their intricate and elaborate designs. Men and women alike adorned their hair with braids, often featuring complex interlacing patterns. These braids were typically created using the individual's natural hair, and sometimes, extensions were added to achieve desired lengths and thickness.

  3. Beads and Accessories: Viking braids were often embellished with metal beads, rings, and other decorative elements. These accessories added a touch of personal style and served as symbols of wealth and prestige. The choice of materials and designs varied based on an individual's social status and personal taste.

  4. Social and Gender Distinctions: Braided hairstyles in Viking society carried social connotations. Married women commonly wore two braids, while unmarried women and young girls might have sported more elaborate braided styles. Men also styled their hair with braids, sometimes gathering them into a single braid or multiple braids.

  5. Archaeological Evidence: The existence of Viking braids is supported by archaeological findings, including preserved human remains and depictions in Norse art. Historical artifacts such as combs, hairpins, and jewelry with intricate braid motifs have also been discovered, providing further evidence of the importance of braided hairstyles in Viking culture.

Have you ever wondered why Vikings braided their hair? Was it just for fashion or did it serve a practical purpose? Understanding the significance of Viking hairstyles can provide us with insight into their way of life. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Vikings braided their hair and how it reflected their social status, identity, and even their beliefs. 

European braids vs African braids

European braids and African braids have distinct origins, styles, cultural significance, and techniques. European braids focus on intricate weaving, are often influenced by fashion trends, and are primarily seen as a hairstyle choice. In contrast, African braids have deep cultural roots, convey identity and heritage, feature diverse styles with intricate patterns and extensions, and hold social significance. African braids are known for their unique beauty, while European braids are appreciated as fashionable hairstyles.

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Sky Hoon
Hair Lover, Idea Starter. He started HairQueenie, which is ranked #27 in the FeedSpot Top 40 Hair Care Blogs and mentions in ManeAddicts and Tempest. Hair is not everything but something. He started Hairqueenie to share great hair products. Over time, he found there are more value to share answers to hair problems that cannot be found easily.
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