origin of bantu knots

Origin of Bantu Knots: Everything You Need to Know

If you are obsessed with your hair and love styling it, you have probably come across “Bantu knots” or “mini twisted buns”. Rihanna, Jada Pinket Smith, Mel B, and Lupita N’yongo have been seen flaunting this hairdo. And if you watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, you must have seen Khloé rocking the hairstyle too (her tweet captioned “Bantu babe” created quite a stir!)

There are ongoing debates about the origin of Bantu knots. The arguments revolve around the origin of the gorgeous hairstyle, as many “non-black” people are up to grab the creator’s trophy. But what is the truth? Who are the original creators of the Bantu knots? Let’s find out.

Meaning of Bantu


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Bantu is a blanket term that represents around 600 ethnic groups in Africa that speak the Bantu language. Today, there are many variations of the language, but “bantu” in all of them means “people”.

The variations were a result of the migration of the Bantu tribes to other parts of Africa. And yet Abantu (or bantu), and Umuntu (person) remain the same everywhere.

Around the 16th century, after Africa was colonized, colonists discovered “Bantu” speaking communities. Soon, “Bantu” was used for all official work to reference the native people and used excessively during the Apartheid. This led to an emotional connection with the term, and people despised it for its association with Apartheid.

Origin of Bantu Knots


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The origin of the Bantu language and how it made its way into South Africa is still unclear.

However, it is known to have originated within the Zulu tribes, which is also the place of origin of Bantu knots.

The Bantu knot is an African hairstyle that has been around since the 2nd millennium BCE.

Bantu also represents the Zulu people, who were supposedly the first to don this gorgeous hairstyle that people are in love with today.

The Legacy of Bantu Knots


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Bantu knots are one of those hairstyles that never really went out of fashion. It has lasting popularity and has been a staple for black women. Bantu knots are a natural hairstyle with a long history, and despite being reinvented numerous times, they are still cool, simple, and fun hairstyles.

Bantu knots represent the black culture and are worn with pride. Like many other hairstyles, these knots are passed down generations from one woman to another.

Africa was the place of origin of Bantu Knots. However, like many other African hairstyles and cultures, Bantu knots, too, have been adopted by the Western world.

Non-black models and celebrities are seen rocking the hairstyle, and it has graced the runways too. And considering the gorgeous look that it imparts, it is no surprise.

But what is not acceptable is that these traditional hairstyles are named “twisted mini buns”, referred to as “new trends”, and non-black people take credit for “inventing” them. This is offensive to Black men and women and is an example of cultural appropriation.

This is especially hurtful for black women, who must fight for equal representation and the recognition of their inherent beauty. And this is not confined to the fashion industry alone; black people have to face unfair representations in several industries.

However, the online black community is quick to call out the wrongdoers and lay out the facts.

How to Make Bantu Knots


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While the Bantu knot hairdo may look complicated, it is quite easy to style and lets you get as creative as you want.

First, section your hair into as many parts as the desired number of knots. If you have short hair, you will have to create smaller sections. For long hair, you can make fewer sections and knots.

Now, twist the hair and wrap it around itself to make a knot-like bun. Tuck the end inside the bun to protect it, and secure it with an elastic band or a hairpin. You can use styling cream or gel to make the hairstyle look sleeker.

With Bantu knots, you can create beautiful and intricate designs while having fun. First off, you can change the positions of the knots. You can have more knots across your head to form a band or distribute them uniformly. You can also divide the sections along geometric lines for a more sophisticated look.

Alternatively, you make Bantu knots in the front half of your hair and leave the remaining half loose. Braid the separated sections before tying them into knots for a more dramatic look.

Bantu knots protect your ends from moisture loss and breakage. You can create Bantu knots with any hair texture and length.

Also, if you are not feeling it, you can dismantle the style to reveal gorgeous curls, also called “Bantu knot-out”.

The Revolutionary Bantu Knots


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There were two controversial incidents revolving around the Bantu knots.

The first one happened in 2016, when Mane addicts posted a tutorial for “twisted hair knots,” then later took it down. This tutorial covered the hairdo that the models wore to the Marc Jacobs show.

When the style was attributed to the designer rather than its true origins, people were outraged.
The second incident happened when Khloé Kardashian posted a photo of herself on Twitter that same year with the caption “Bantu babe” while sporting the Bantu hairstyle. She received a lot of backlash and deleted the post.

When black women represent their culture with traditional hairstyles, they are deemed unprofessional and untidy. But the same style on a white woman is labeled fashionable.

The “Crown Act” is an answer to all discrimination against black hair. California was the first to accept the act and outlaw discrimination against natural hairstyles. Since then, seven states have passed the law.

The act prohibits discrimination, like denying education opportunities or employment based on hairstyle or hair texture. This includes Bantu knots and other braids, twists, and locs.

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