Akan traditional hairstyles and Egyptian similarities

April 2010

While going through two of Rattray's books Religion and Art in Ashanti (1927) and Ashanti Law and Constitution (1929), I realized that the traditional hairstyle used by Akan females is done in a way to show an 'elongated skull'. I suspect this has to do with maintaining a tradition that started with the beings from Sirius, who had a large influence in Egypt. If you look at Nefertiti's head (see below) you will see that she had this elongated skull. All the images of Akan females are from Rattray's books. Even today, in the 21st century, Akan queenmothers and others undergoing very traditional ceremonies still wear their hair in this fashion. It is not only Akan-Asante females who wear this traditional hairstyle, it is a practice that is common with all the Akan groups.

It should be pointed out that not all Akan people have the elongated head structure although it is common. There are those with 'flat heads' as well as other shapes. The photos below show some African hair styles in comparison with Egyptian ones. In the first photo below, the right-most photo is of an African group other than the Akan, but I thought the hair-style was interesting to use for contrast. The middle photo is of an Akan girl who had 'come of age' and was going through the necessary rites. It was obtained from plates in Rattray's second book Religion and Art in Ashanti (1927).

Dolicocephalic style
The following photos are all from plates in Rattray's 3rd book Ashanti Law and Constitution (1929)