Although many new age brands and designers (*ahem* Marc Jacobs) would have you believe that they are a new creation, Bantu Knots are an Afrocentric style that has been around for many centuries. A gorgeous yet edgy protective style, if you are a Naturalista and don’t know about Bantu Knots, you’ll wish you had after this!
A Short Bantu History
Also known as Zulu Knots, Bantu Knots originated in West Africa and slowly spread across the continent. With a literal meaning of “people”, the word Bantu was coined in the mid-1800’s and originally used to encompass over 400 African ethnic groups, it is said that many African Americans are of Bantu descent. Also used to describe various African languages and dialects, there are a number of Bantu languages that are still thriving to this very day.
There is a number of ways to achieve Bantu Knots, each of which depends on the products and length and texture of hair, among many other things. Nevertheless, there is a difference between installing them to twist out the next day and styling them to stay in for a while longer. In the case of the former, you will certainly want to start on dry, stretch hair. In terms of products, you will want to use things such as gel, curl creams, detangler spray, or even shea butter. The point is to dampen, but not drench the hair to make it easier to set overnight. You can also use a bit of heat by sitting under a dryer is you suspect they are still damp in the morning. The next day, you will simply untwist the knots and style them as preferred.
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On the flip side, if you will be leaving them in for a while, you can essentially use whichever products you are comfortable with. This is due to the fact that your hair will have multiple days to set and dry. Moreover, if you are looking to spruce up this style a bit, try headbands, scarves, and beanie hats.
Overall, Bantu Knots are a great way to get in touch with your roots, both literally and figuratively. On the one hand, they are a great style that reminds us of where we come from. On the other hand, it is an awesome style to help promote growth via stretching as well as hair health by protecting it from the elements.
Now that you have the Bantu basics, check out some of our fave Bantu-Torials below!