The turban is not a style – it is a legacy, a heritage passed down from 17th century enslaved black women to today’s progressive woman wearing her culture with pride. A tignon (spelled and pronounced tiyon) is a headcovering. A piece of material tied about the lady’s head to form the turban (see video below) that looks like the West African Gele. It was worn by Creole women of African descent in Louisiana during the Spanish colonial period, and continuing to the present day. This beautiful headdress was the result of laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. The tignon laws, enforced “appropriate” public dress for black women in colonial society. In Louisiana, and around the world, women of African descent vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. One of the most standout physical attributes that separated us from the white counterparts was our hair. We would adorn our hair with colorful jewelry, beads and other accents, demonstrating an enticing appearance which attracted the white male suitors. Many of us had become openly kept mistresses of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This perceived threat to white women’s relationships with French and Spanish Creole men incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. With the looming threat to the social status of white women growing and the attention garnered as a result of the jewelry adorned hairstyles from women of African descent, action was required. To correct this, Governor Miró decreed that women of African descent, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from “excessive attention to dress” to maintain class distinctions. Historian Virginia M. Gould notes that Miró hoped the law would control women “who had become too light skinned or who dressed too elegantly, or who, in reality, competed too freely with white women for status and thus threatened the social order.” Miró’s intent of having the tignon mark inferiority had the opposite effect, according to historian Carolyn Long[3]who noted: “Instead of being considered a badge of dishonor, the tignon…became a fashion statement. The bright reds, blues, and yellows of the scarves, and the imaginative wrapping techniques employed by their wearers, are said to have enhanced the beauty of the women of color.” The women who were targets of this decree were inventive and imaginative. They decorated tignons with their jewels and ribbons, and used the finest available materials to wrap their hair. In other words, “[t]hey effectively re-interpreted the law without technically breaking the law”[4]—and they continued to be pursued by men. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

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