The Afro Comb was a daily feature during my childhood. It was plain, black and made of plastic. The Afro Comb was a necessity. Because of it, I always left the house looking good. My mom combed my hair with it and created bantu knots. Little did I know that this plain comb, had such a rich and beautiful history.
The Afro Comb originated in Kush and Kemet [present day Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt], about 7000 years ago, and later became popular throughout the African continent. The oldest combs that have been discovered so far, go as far back as the 14th century, and are mostly from Ghana, Angola, Cameroon, South Africa, Ethiopia, the DRC and the Ivory Coast. They were made of wood, bamboo, ivory or bones. Each part of the comb – the handle, the body, and prongs had a very special cultural meaning. These combs were carved with ornate designs and figures to display tribal affiliation and history as well as personal status, wealth, cosmology, spirituality and as a sign of love for someone.
Images from THE CREATIVE MUSEUM.