Origins of the Afro Pick: Duafe

Hair and grooming have always played an important role in the culture of Africa and the African Diaspora. The traditional African comb or pick has played a crucial part in the creation, maintenance, and decoration of hair-styles for both men and women.

In many African societies, ancient and modern, the hair comb symbolises status, group affiliation, and religious beliefs, and is encoded with ritual properties. The handles of combs are decorated with objects of status, such as the headrest, human figures, and motifs that reference nature and the traditional spiritual world.

In the 20th century ‘afro’ combs began to take on a wider political and cultural message, perhaps most notably in the form of the ‘black fist’ comb that references the Black power salute.

In Ghana, elaborate combs such as these, were gifts from Akan men to women to commemorate special events, such as puberty celebrations, weddings, or births. The 1st comb below, informs the reason for its commission: crowned by a female bust with a disk-like head, it echoes the highly conventionalized akua ba fertility figures. As a gift from a husband to his wife the comb underscores the couple’s desire to have children. Evident is also the relationship between the akua ba as an ideal of feminine beauty and the function of the comb in the creation of the coiffure.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Try researching the history of the Duafe yourself!

Peace and blessings manifest with every lesson learned.

-i Shila Iris