ART CULTURE fashion

Tignon Laws and how it was used to fuel racial tensions in the United States.

Tignons have been worn by women in the Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Dominica which included hidden messages. They used Madras – a popular fabric amongst slaves and free women to achieve their head ties.

Tignon law eventually went out of effect in the 1800’s yet, black women worldwide continue to use head wraps as wardrobe staples paying homage to their culture, signifying their pride, and looking stunning while doing so.

There was a time when black women weren’t allowed to display their hair in public.

A tignon (tiyon) is a headdress used to conceal hair.  It was adorned by free and slave Creole women of African ancestry in Louisiana in 1786.  The sumptuary law was enacted under Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró.  The regulation was meant as a means to regulate the style of dress and appearance for people of color.  Black women’s features often attracted male white, French, and Spanish suitors and their beauty was a perceived threat to white women. The tignon law was a tactic used to combat the men pursuing and engaging in affairs with Creole women. Simply put, black women competed too openly with white women by dressing elegantly and possessing note-worth beauty.

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