Where do dreadlocks originate from?

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The history of dreadlocks traces back to ancient cultures in Africa, India, and Crete. It has many roots; it’s too hard to determine their actual origins. However, this is a brief history of dreadlocks and famous people who had them.

One story tells that dreadlocks originated in India with the deity Shiva and his devotees who are dreadlocked.  It is more likely that this is the spirituality origin of dreadlocks in Indian culture. It is in contradiction to the story told by those who claim that Egypt is the real birthplace of dreadlocks. That claim is actually backed by archeological evidence in the form of Egyptian mummies sporting intact dreadlocks.

Whatever their true origins were, nearly all cultures wore dreadlocks at one point or another. Roman historians stated that the Celts wore their hair like “snakes.” Some evidence suggests that the Germanic tribes and Vikings wore dreadlocks. More cultures also wore dreadlocks, such as:

  • The monks of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church wore them.
  • The Nazarites of Judaism wore them.
  • Qalandri Sufis wore them.
  • The Sadhus of Hinduism wore them.
  • The Dervishes of Islam wore them.
  • African tribal cultures wore them.
  • Rastafarians wore them.
  • Even rappers wore them.

Even more historical accounts stated that thousands of early Christians wore dreadlocks. Notably, Sampson who the legend said he had seven locks of hair which granted him his superhuman strength. No one culture or civilization “own” dreadlocks.