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The Moussor, headwrap, more than a trend

The Moussor, headwrap, more than a trend

Photo credit @annaehrenstein
The use of the headscarf has always varied from one society or era to another, it takes the language that the wearer gives it.

Originally from Africa through the wearing by black women, the moussor, turban, veil, scarf, the story behind it translates a reflex more identity than religious or aesthetic.

Hide this hair from me that I can't see!

By looking for the story behind the scarf, we learn more about ourselves and the condition of black women in Western societies.
In Louisiana between 1790 and 1800, during slavery, free black and mixed-race women put jewelry and accessories in their hair that caught the eye of white men and made their wives jealous. A law called the Tignon Law (tignon means headgear) was passed to require all black women to hide their hair by the mandatory wearing of headscarves.
They knew little about black women. They found ideas as ingenious as each other by sublime and majestic attachés. The scarf, a distinctive sign and symbol of oppression became a real fashion accessory.

Reine NDATÉ YALLA MBOJ arborant son moussor. Femme à la tête d'une armée et première force de résistance à la colonisations. En 1855 les français furent surpris de voir une femme diriger alors que chez eux la femme n'a eu la citoyenneté qu 90 ans plus tard. Photo: david Boilat 2 septembre 1850 - In Reines et Héroïnes d'Afrique  

Reconnecting with its roots: the Tet Creole Marét

The scarf is as old as mankind. In the West Indies it is called marét de tèt often made of madras fabric and symbolizes the Creole culture and heritage. It is intimately linked to slavery and the taboo of frizzy hair, symbol of strength and beauty among black women.
The head handkerchief was a weapon of repression, a means of humiliating and devaluing the black woman to make her frizzy hair a disgrace. We now know the damage that the frizzy hair taboo has caused and still causes even though black women today are rediscovering and relearning to love their hair.
These women of the islands, as well as men, have been able to turn it into a real identity weapon.


A symbol of struggle, rebellion and self-assertion

Throughout history, women wore moussor out of conviction while keeping the aesthetic side. It was a question of wearing the scarf to awaken consciences. Women claimed their rights by wearing this external sign on their head or waist.
In Mali, women conscious of their role in the struggle for independence and integration in their country participated in the anti-colonial struggle thanks to their handkerchiefs. This struggle was called "the handkerchiefs of solidarity".


The handkerchief, from information to revolution

Still called "handkerchief of useful knowledge" in France, the illustrated handkerchief from Rouen helped illiterate French soldiers of the time, 1890, to receive any information at their fingertips. The commander Perrinon in garrison in Rouen diverted it from its primary function (accessory) to make it an indispensable tool in the soldiers' luggage. It was produced in Rouen, France.
He used it as a real map for the soldiers, a survival manual (using a gun, bandage, calendar, dressing etc.) Elisabeth Bassargette tells us about it in Volume 30 collection "Histoire de l'éducation", 1986 p.61-66

www.invalides.org on the illustrated handkerchief from Rouen


The expression of patriotism, the "Made In".

Today even if the aesthetic aspect dominates, the claiming side of wearing a scarf finds more its meaning. We notice that among celebrities, black in particular, once a certain level of success has been reached, a return to the roots becomes necessary. The search for their roots, the sharing of their black culture and African art is the strength of their work to become true role models. Beyoncé in a scarf, Solange, Rihanna ... even the men get involved.