Monday, March 14, 2016

Hijabista Africaning: Intersections of Black Headwrapping

The creative process in headwrapping is endless for it depends on the individual who practices the art as part of their culture and how they perceive and relate to the world.  Some women practice the art to showcase traditional fashions that counter and provide alternatives from the limited global Eurocentric fashion world, such as the African headwrap.  The African headwrap and its fabrics provide pride and visibility to the undesired Black body as an extension to the world sentiment of Anti-Africanism.  Anti-Africanism has penetrated into all Black societies since European conquest and pillage.  This created unreal and illusionist racial caste systems, furthering dividing our people even in one small area.  The African headwrap serves to reignite the beauty and love for the African phenotype, specifically referring to Blue-Black skin tone, wide facial features, and "kinky" hair.  It has proven successful in its Pan-African aim at uniting the diaspora, although much work remains to be done for the inclusion of phenotypes not traditionally considered African, vital to truly unite the African family.  

(feature diagonal cross at the top, two tail tucked in african styled and two remaining tails make the hijab style)
Nebula W5 Hijab Crown

 (features diagonal cross at the top, two tails tucked on top in an African style with accentuating yellow tail going up and two remaining different colored tails come around neck to make the hijab style, no pins needed, just tuck ends into sides)

Creating a headwrap also depends on the material of the fabric being used and the best way to use that fabric to achieve a desired design that goes in accord with the personality and style of the woman wearing it.  So, in the case of the African headwrap, it features a style that is high on our heads with techniques that come from the bottom up.  The actual material of the fabric allows for manipulation that can add dimension and detail by using just one scarf that can stand tall without falling off the head.  The hard, which I characterize as rooted, material is essential to knot, twist, cross and tuck all in one without ever needing other fabrics. The skill employed to achieve such high complex and beautiful works of art is entirely related to learning the simple motion of bottom up using the material that stays up.  Looking closer, the scarf or fabric material is a direct reflection of the diversity of the African hair and its strength.  African hair features hairstyles that no other Black culture can ever recreate simply because of the hair texture itself, just like the headwraps.

Hijabi Crown 
 (Bottom-Up simple diagonal cross, first scarf tucked in and around head, second scarf placed to showcase diagonal cross, and both tails wrapped around neck to feature the one color Hijab)

African style headwraps are also a direct reflection of the state of mind that still lives and lingers in the continent from where all life started and all the shades of Black came to be.  "Where the knowledge and wisdom of the original man first started" (4:14).  The innate action of creation, bringing forth something from the unknown to the known.  It comes from the bottom up.  It coils upward as it is brought into manifestation by the thought who visualized it.  The duality of light slowly extending itself up from the darkness of the All, that carbon based, melanated origins of the Black, Brown and Yellow woman.  This is the essence of the African headwrap.  It even shows us, in its design process,  one creative reality from the infinite ways to wrap that originates from the source of who we are, which is our Blackness.
Grape Hijab Crown
(Purple scarf placed from the top to the bottom, tails brought together on left side and looped into sparkling scarf, one tail brought down and other to the right side to accentute half a bang. The sparkling scarf was brought around tightly in oval shape to cover neck and it was tucked in on right side to create a bang)

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad always articulated and left us behind with the idea that there were two main phenotypes of the Black seed.  The first phenotype is the wide facial features with coarse hair.  The other dark phenotype is narrow facial features with straight hair. From these two main Black skinned phenotypes we get variations of coarse to curly hair to straight hair, as well as mixed wide and narrow facial features. This means that when we add skin tone, which he also taught varied into 16 shades and more, we get a diversity of Blackness less rigid and limited in categories.  The messenger wanted us to know that the Black family was much more diverse than what we think of today and we must continue to enlighten ourselves to reach the truth to what being African or Afro-descendant means.  It is an entire people that we might not even consider African because the dominating cultural Eurocentric mentality has erased it from our minds. 

Lake Shore Hijab Crown
 (Featuring left diagonal cross, looped bow on lower right side, and two constracting color tails to create the Hijab style on neck)

One such culture are the religiously informed Islamic societies that encompass parts of the Middle East and Asia.  These people vary in shades of Brown, Olive, Yellow, and their invisible Black hued people due to anti-Africanism. Issues aside, these too are Black people labelled with different racial-ethnic names.  As of note, we know that before Islam became a religion, it was a way of life rooted in mathematics and science to reinforce our nature as man and woman.  This is the aspect of Islam that went North into Europe with the people we refer to as the Moors.  The more religious, regulation-based Islam went further South in Africa and spread East.  Both inevitably influenced and reshaped the culture of its people.   

Braid Hijab Crown
 (Brown scarf wrapped from top to bottom, two tails hanging, pink scarf diagonally tied, two more tails hanging, Sari scarf placed horizontally on top and crossed at bottom, braiding starts on right side, then diagonally brought to the bottom left, braiding continues on the left, and braid tail brought around neck towards right and tucked in under entire wrap.  

For the people who adapted this religious lifestyle, specifically for the women, as time went on questions on modesty and the role of women in Islam was questioned.  Eventually adapting the veil to create a unique Islamic modest identity, called the Hijab, was established.  This also coincides with the overt Masculinization of our respective societies.  The Hijab has been adapted to meet the needs of the practicing woman and her environment, although the covering of the head and neck remain an unchanged aspect of Hijab covering.  Hijab covering is not just a religious law, it has always been a cultural marker as well.  Different Islamic communities adapt the Hijab uniquely, depending on their ethnic roots.

Tiger Prints Hijab Crown
(Featuring taupe scarf placed and tied from top to bottom, two tails hanging, right tail tucked around and into its own pocket, left tail out. Cat scarf placed diagonally from upper right to lower left, right cat tail merged with taupe left tail into a diagonal twist.  Longer left tail brought from around loosely and tucked right under right ear).
Dealing with an aspect of Islam and tracing roots to the Moors, in my 9 year covering journey, I've always embraced the Hijab, although not as with the same love as my African and Indigenous styles.  However, the Hijab covering process brought me to question and extend my awareness of my upper body.  I started to look at my Crowns as an extension of my head.. There was this innate idea that had been sparked, but I hadn't become aware of yet in regards to my Crowns.  This was the idea that a Crown could extend and incorporate your neck area. The Crown is not just composed of your head, it is held by the neck and supported by the shoulders, extending into your chest.  The nervous system, your bio-electrical system, carrying thoughts and ideas, spreads through these areas.  The head is a part of this system.  Water, a natural symbolism of Wisdom travels through the body as our thoughts originating from our mind through our brain. Obviously, Muslim sisters had already incorporated this scientific reality into their practice whether knowingly or not.  It was with this framework I started to think about my Crowns.

Galaxy Nebula Hijab Crown
(Israeli scarf placed diagonally from upper right to lower left. Sari scarf placed diagonally from upper left to lower right. Tails hanging.  Right sari tail brought up diagonally showing part of Israeli scarf on right.  Israeli scarf on left side brought up diagonally and tucked under Sari. Right side Israeli looped lower knot on sari and brought around neck towards left side. Left sari tail brought around neck towards right, both tucked in). 

Like water, who also carries an electrical reality in it, the Hijab flowed smoothly from the head down towards the upper body. The material of the Hijab reflected that movement as well.  To create Hijab styles the fabric, usually a scarf is arranged in circular motions and pinned multiple times until final design is achieved.  This circular motion of creation (as with African hairwrapping) resurfaces once again, but in a different way.  This time, the coil goes downward and in bigger loops.  The material of the scarf or fabric reflects an aspect of Black hair as well.  For the women with curly to straight, it reflects their hair texture, a variation Black hair.  Hair again partly informs head covering. The richness of our Blackness and diversity in headwrapping is also illustrated in how the Hijab is created.  In this case, from the top to the bottom.  Coiling, again being an intrinsic part of creating the head cover.

Mustard & Ketchup Hijab Crown
(Mustard scarf tied from top to bottom, both tails brought up and tucked in, burgundy headband placed diagonally from upper left to lower right side, Mayan stripped scarf tied into mustard scarf and tied circularly from upper back of left side to the upper right side with a loose Hijab around neck).

These thoughts greatly influenced the way in which I create my Hijab Crowns.  Just like hair when long and of any texture, naturally is brought down by gravity, the neck inevitably was adorned and covered with it.  Being ethnically so-called "Latina," which encompasses the clashes of so many original people around the world (Moorish, African, Indigenous) and knowing these were all just variations of Black, I unconsciously showcased all that in my Hijab styles.  My Hijab Crowns featured both African and Islamic elements on my head, which reinforced that Islam is indeed a Black religion, as well as the differing realities of Blackness.  The environment I live in and the changes in weather, like in previous times, also influenced the style of the Hijab Crown.  Some are obviously better suited for colder or warmer weather.  Each Hijab wrap styling, shows the interconnections and relations of all the original people around the world. It is evidently celebrated all throughout, the reality of Blackness as diversely one.  Islam is an African-rooted religion and its extension to the Middle East and Asia have added new Black ethnic elements to the religion and headwrapping style that when combined with African headwrap techniques burst into explosions of beautiful encounters seen in the creation of my Hijab Crowns. This Hijabista stays Africanizing...

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