Red Trunk Project

sample Oaxaca trunk

ethnography: RIBBONS and BOWS for HAIR and BRAIDS

A woman with brightly colored hair ribbons

Since pre-Hispanic times, women in Mexico have made elaborate hair-dos. Even sculptures of gods and goddesses, royalty and warriors had fantastic headdresses often interweaving their own hair with adornments.  Now, a thousand years later, indigenous women still have many ways of braiding their hair. Long thick black braids are considered elegant and beautiful in the Oaxaca aesthetic and the satin ribbons make them all the more beautiful.

Women spend a great deal of time caring for their hair which genetically is usually a deep shade of black and grows densely. Wooden combs, now often made of plastic, are an essential part of everyone’s personal products and aromatic, perfumed oils are on seemingly every shelf. Hair is often washed in the local stream or with water carried to the house. Then, the long process of combing out the knots and adding the oils begins.

How braids are made and worn can signify the exact village a woman is from, the occasion — daily life or fiestas — and sometimes even marital status. In the Valley of Oaxaca, women often braid yards of satin ribbon into their braids and wrap them around their heads. For a fiesta, even more ribbons are woven in making a ringlet of colors around a woman’s head. In the village of Yalalag, Oaxaca, Zapotec women twist and tie in think skeins of black wool yarn into their own hair to create an elaborate headdress. These skeins are called tlacoyales and are also woven into women's hair in several other villages, such as Cuetzalan, Puebla, far to the north of Oaxaca. What is certain is that using tlacoyales is definitely an example of long lasting cultural continuity from generation to generation of indigenous women.

Back to Sample Oaxaca Trunk

Since pre-Hispanic times, women in Mexico have made elaborate hair-dos. Even sculptures of gods and goddesses, royalty and warriors had fantastic headdresses often interweaving their own hair with adornments.  Now, a thousand years later, indigenous women still have many ways of braiding their hair. Long thick black braids are considered elegant and beautiful in the Oaxaca aesthetic and the satin ribbons make them all the more beautiful.

Women spend a great deal of time caring for their hair which genetically is usually a deep shade of black and grows densely. Wooden combs, now often made of plastic, are an essential part of everyone’s personal products and aromatic, perfumed oils are on seemingly every shelf. Hair is often washed in the local stream or with water carried to the house. Then, the long process of combing out the knots and adding the oils begins.

How braids are made and worn can signify the exact village a woman is from, the occasion — daily life or fiestas — and sometimes even marital status. In the Valley of Oaxaca, women often braid yards of satin ribbon into their braids and wrap them around their heads. For a fiesta, even more ribbons are woven in making a ringlet of colors around a woman’s head. In the village of Yalalag, Oaxaca, Zapotec women twist and tie in think skeins of black wool yarn into their own hair to create an elaborate headdress. These skeins are called tlacoyales and are also woven into women's hair in several other villages, such as Cuetzalan, Puebla, far to the north of Oaxaca. What is certain is that using tlacoyales is definitely an example of long lasting cultural continuity from generation to generation of indigenous women.

Back to Sample Oaxaca Trunk

Red Trunk Project

Since pre-Hispanic times, women in Mexico have made elaborate hair-dos. Even sculptures of gods and goddesses, royalty and warriors had fantastic headdresses often interweaving their own hair with adornments.  Now, a thousand years later, indigenous women still have many ways of braiding their hair. Long thick black braids are considered elegant and beautiful in the Oaxaca aesthetic and the satin ribbons make them all the more beautiful.

Women spend a great deal of time caring for their hair which genetically is usually a deep shade of black and grows densely. Wooden combs, now often made of plastic, are an essential part of everyone’s personal products and aromatic, perfumed oils are on seemingly every shelf. Hair is often washed in the local stream or with water carried to the house. Then, the long process of combing out the knots and adding the oils begins.

How braids are made and worn can signify the exact village a woman is from, the occasion — daily life or fiestas — and sometimes even marital status. In the Valley of Oaxaca, women often braid yards of satin ribbon into their braids and wrap them around their heads. For a fiesta, even more ribbons are woven in making a ringlet of colors around a woman’s head. In the village of Yalalag, Oaxaca, Zapotec women twist and tie in think skeins of black wool yarn into their own hair to create an elaborate headdress. These skeins are called tlacoyales and are also woven into women's hair in several other villages, such as Cuetzalan, Puebla, far to the north of Oaxaca. What is certain is that using tlacoyales is definitely an example of long lasting cultural continuity from generation to generation of indigenous women.

Red Trunk Project

A woman with brightly colored hair ribbons

Red Trunk Project

A woman with brightly colored hair ribbons

Red Trunk Project®

Red Trunk Project

A woman with brightly colored hair ribbons