Origins of the Afro Comb

(image courtesy of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge)

(image courtesy of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge)

A new interactive website displaying an interesting collection of both old and new African combs: Origins of the Afro Comb; a shared project between the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, and The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London.

This project is multi-disciplinary and will combine new archaeological, anthropological and sociological research with community engagement. It will trace over 5000 years of history of the African comb from the Pre-dynastic period of Egypt to the Twentieth century in UK and US, and will include oral histories and personal testimonies that will document attitudes towards hair and grooming in the present day.

Hair and grooming have always played an important role in the culture of Africa and the African Diaspora and the traditional African comb, known also as an African pick, rake, or ‘Afro’ has played a crucial role in the creation, maintenance, and decoration of hair-styles. Furthermore, the African comb has been used by both men and women, and continues to be relevant to both groups in the present day.

Makes me remember my late grandfather, who wouldn’t leave the house without his comb in the inside pocket of his jacket – not that he had much hair.