Why do Women Cover their Hair in Different Religions and Cultures?
The ancient ritual of head- covering has been practiced by women of different cultures and religions from the beginning of time. While today some women cover their hair as a result of illness or medical treatment that brings partial or complete hair loss, many do so for religious purposes. We are blessed to live in an era in which head- coverings are not only comfortable and practical, but they're magnificent and fashionable as well! Read on to find out why women of different religions and cultures wear head- coverings and to find cute looks that will work for you!
Christianity views head-covering as a symbol of submission to Divine authority. As is stated in Corinthias, a book of the new Testament:
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head… (1 Cor 11:7-10a)
As Corinthias explains, there is an idea in Christianity that while man was made in the image of God, woman was made in the image of (and for the sake of) man. Therefore, men need not to show submission to a divine presence or to anything else, but women "ought to have a symbol of authority on her head" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
A second reason as to why Christian women cover their hair is that "the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." (1 Cor 11:10 NASB)
This passage has various interpretations, one of which is that women must cover their heads so as not to illustrate disobedience to God and man.
In today's culture, many Christian women still wear head coverings to show their devotion to their husbands and as a symbol of modesty. There are no specific head covering guidelines, but there are trends. Christian women tend to cover their hair in a way that they is both comfortable and flattering. Veils, caps, scarves, and snoods are among the most popular choices for Christian women. A common theme distinct to Christian women's head coverings is that they do not see a prohibition in covering one's hair, and see covering the head as sufficient. Many Christians will only practice head- covering while attending Church or other religious events.
Islam views the concept of head-covering as an expression of modesty and privacy. The Quran (24:31) states: "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veil over their heads and not display their beauty except to their husband..." Thus, Muslim women cover much of their bodies, including their head and hair, and only display these parts of their bodies to their husbands and other males in their families. The head- covering serves as a reminder for deterring unnecessary attention such as flattery or sexual attraction in their extramarital relationships. Additionally, many Muslims believe that covering the head engenders a certain spiritual state of receptivity and centeredness.
The general practice among Muslim women is wear head coverings that also cover their hair, leaving only their faces showing.
The source for Jewish women covering their head comes from the Bible, where it discusses the punishment for a married woman who is accused of committing adultery. When she comes to the Temple to determine whether she is guilty or innocent the Priest "shall loosen her hair" (Numbers 5:18). This is described as part of a series of degrading acts for a married woman, and implies that married women generally had their heads covered.
A common head covering that Jewish women wear is a wig. Many question this covering as isn't the purpose of covering the hair to avoid attention? How is wearing a wig that looks as good (if not better) than your hair detracting attention?
In Jewish law, modesty is not meant to make a woman unattractive. In fact women need to dress in a way that attracts their husbands while still being modest. The purpose of modesty, especially once a woman is married, is to create a physical and psychological barrier between women and men other than her husband. Although a wig can still be beautiful, it will never feel as natural to a woman as her own hair. She will always be aware that she is wearing it, therefore she will constantly be reminded to act modestly. There are many Jewish women who cover their hair with scarves or hats. ModLi has some gorgeous scarves to offer. Make sure to check them out!
In the African culture, women cover their hair fully using a head wrap. Culturally, African women wear head scarves to ward off evil spirits. The women take the art of wrapping their head scarves very seriously. They pride themselves on how intricately they are able to wrap their headscarf. The head scarves are particularly popular in West Africa. Women use head scarves as a route to express their individual style. The head wrap also served as a way of expressing the trend of ones region and signified their communal identity.
Unknowingly, the African head scarf had an opposite significance for the African women living in the United States during the period of slavery. Many slaves were required to wear a head scarf by their owners. The head wrap was meant to protect women's hair from the elements in which they worked, as well as to prevent the spreading of lice. The head wraps of the African American community symbolized poverty and enslavement. In parts of the South, the obligation to have African Women cover their hair was even brought to legislation. Instead of allowing it to embarrass them, African women regarded their head scarf as a sign of courage and unity with their community. African women wrapped their head scarves in their own individual manner regaining their individual identities and acting as an empowering accessory.