- Kim Kardashian is a social media queen and well-known fashion icon. She once emulated the hairstyle of an Egyptian queen. While the original tweet resulted in cries of cultural appropriation, it also highlighted the influence that ancient Egyptian beauty had and continue to has on the world.
- Read on to learn what Kim Kardashian, an ancient Egyptian Queen, Nefertari’s Vault, and a 1970s film star have in common. It’s time to learn more about a hairstyle so iconic to the Ancient Egyptians, that one of their greatest queens may have been mummified wearing it.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CONTROVERSY
Kim Kardashian is best known for her rabid social media following; she has well-over 100 million followers on Instagram alone. But, thanks to a few insensitive comments, she’s also sometimes known as a cultural appropriator.
A firestorm started in January of 2018 when Kim posted some photos of herself sporting some tight braids accented by a series of glass beads. While many admired her new hairstyle, others took issue with her accompanying comment: “So guys I got Bo Derek braids, and I’m really into it.’
The problem? Bo Derek is white and played no part in creating the Fulani braids. But, she did jump to Kim’s defense saying, “Kim Kardashian calls it the Bo Derek because she copied my pattern of braids. I copied it from Ann-Margret’s backup singer from her Vegas Show. And we all copied Queen Nofretari. I hope Her Royal Highness is flattered.” Though she misspelled the name, it’s clear that Bo Derek actually referred to Ancient Egypt’s Queen Nefertari.
That name might look familiar. We’ll get to why in a minute.
WHAT ARE FULANI BRAIDS?
While similar to cornrows in many ways, Fulani braids are set apart by their length and ample ornamentation. Traditional Fulani braids include five or more strands decorated with beads, shells, or coins, and a central coiffure on the top of the skull. Unruly.com goes on to say that all true Fulani braids have these four things in common:
- One cornrow down the center of your hair, braided from front to back
- A cornrow braided down either side of your head with tails dangling
- A single braid wrapped around the perimeter of your head
- Gold clips, shells, or beads spread throughout the braids
While often associated with actress Bo Derek, this hairstyle is an adaption of a style commonly worn by the Fulbe people in Western Africa. Predominantly Muslim, this migratory group currently numbers somewhere between 20 and 25 million people. The Fulbe can currently be found spread throughout the African continent. To this day, these braids are an important piece of Fula culture.
While there is no evidence documenting how it happened, mummified remains show that these highly-ornamented braids eventually entered the Egyptian culture. They became popular enough to grace the head of one of Egypt’s most powerful queens: Nefertari.
Click here to learn more about this regal hairstyle and see some tutorials on making it work for you.
SHE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A TWEET QUEEN (INTRODUCING QUEEN NEFERTARI)
The wife of Ramesses II, Nefertari held a variety of titles, including: Lady of Grace, Lady of all Lands, Wife of the Strong Bull, and Great of Praises. Her likeness can be found at Luxor and she even has a small temple dedicated to her in Abu Simbel. Most often associated with Hathor, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth, Nefertari would go on to birth the Pharaoh’s six children.
While alive, Nefertari played an important part in both religious and civil ceremonies. Due to her commonly being portrayed as a scribe, it’s also thought that she could both read and write. Modern historians believe her power as a woman was unequalled throughout ancient Egypt.
Though historians cannot pinpoint her time of death, they know that it predated that of her husband. Her tomb is also regarded as one of the most beautiful in all of Ancient Egypt. Before looters destroyed much of its splendor, it featured more than 5200 square-feet worth of murals and an untold number of jewels.
Nefertari is also proof that Egyptian royal marriages could be more than simple power grabs. One inscription, thought to be written by her husband, reads: “”My love is unique — no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.”
Though her life may have ended, her spirit lives on in popular culture. This great queen was a player in The Ten Commandments, The Mummy Returns, and Fate Prototype. She also played the role of narrator in Michelle Moran’s The Heretic Queen.
BY ANY OTHER NAME
We named Nefertari’s Vault after this Egyptian queen who was not just a beautiful but powerful in her own right. Her name is also full of meaning and can be translated as ‘ beautiful companion.’ Our jewelry will be the perfect ‘Nefertari’ to your collection.
Enter Nefertari’s Vault to uncover designs that ravish the eye and discover jewelry as powerful and beautiful as the ancient queen herself!