The history of dreadlocks is varied and differs depending on who you ask. This, then, is a summary and compilation of all the different accounts I have been able to locate.

One account claims that dreadlocks originated in India (unlike most who cite Egypt as their birth place) with the deadlocked deity Shiva and his followers. It is likely that this is the spirituality origin of dreadlocks in Indian culture. However, the first archeological proof of people wearing dreadlocks came from Egypt where mummies have been recovered with their dreadlocks still in tact.

Regardless of their origin, dreadlocks have been worn by nearly every culture at some point in time or another. Roman accounts stated that the Celts wore their hair ‘like snakes’. The Germanic tribes and Vikings were also known to wear their hair in dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have been worn by the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Nazarites of Judiasm, Qalandri’s Sufi’s, the Sadhu’s of Hinduism, and the Dervishes of Islam, and many more! There are even strong suggestions that many early Christians wore dreadlocks; most notably Sampson who was said to have seven locks of hair which gave him his inhuman strength.

The belief that dreadlocks gave a person power is not unique to this Bible story. Many believed that energy (presumably life force energy, chi, prana, ki, etc.) exits the body through the top of the head and that having knotted hair prevents or retards the escape of energy making one stronger and even potentially imbuing a person with supernatural mental and physical abilities. In many cultures it was and is common for shamans in particular to wear dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have also symbolized the recognition and demonstration that our physical appearances and vanity are unimportant. Another, similar practice is having a shaved head with no hair at all. Others still believe that dreadlocks are the most natural and healthy style of hair to have as hair will dread if left to its own devices.

Israeli musicians depicted wearing their hair in dreadlocks.

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution Rastafarianism began gaining popularity among the Black Jamaican population. Rastafarianism draws its belief from three main sources; the Old Testament, African tribal culture, and Hindu tribal culture. Before it got the name ‘Rastafarianism’ its followers called themselves ‘dreads’, signifying their ‘dread’ and respect for God. In an attempt to emulate the Nazarites and Hindu holy men their beliefs were modeled after, they began to wear their hair in matted styles and this is when the term ‘dreadlocks’ came into common use. Rastafarianism began to draw attention when in the 1930’s Ras Tafari was crowned the emperor of Ethiopia. He was forced into exile and many vowed not to cut their hair until he was released.

The association of dreadlocks with marijuana smoking also began with the Rasta movement which contended that smoking it facilitated clear-thinking. It still holds true today that many deadheads (Caucasian more than Rasta) are pro-marijuana. However, there are other sects of Rastafarianism who believe any sort of mind-altering substance is impure and also restrict the consumption red meat and alcohol. These same purists suggest that Bob Marley and his extreme pro-marijuana stance damaged the reputation of Rastafarianism.


Marley, himself, identified as a Rastafarian and it was his deadlocked style that brought bob-marley-colourful-backgroundthe style into the mainstream where it has expanded into many other subcultures. They have become especially popular among New Age travellers (Pagans, especially, who travel from festival to festival across the country), hippies, vegans, goths, and cyber goths. Additionally, dreadlocks have become highly popular among the subculture of jam bands, such as the Grateful Dead and Phish,

Dread heads today have varied reasons for choosing to wear their hair in dreads. Some of them are based in spiritual purposes such as suggested above, others because they identify as Rasta, and others simply because they love the look! More importantly than what your reason is, is knowing your reason so that someday when someone asks you WHY you put dreads in your hair you can say without a doubt why you have dreads and what your dreads mean to you!



Rastafari is an Abrahamic religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), much in the same way as Jesus in his Second Advent, or as God the Father. Members of the Rastafari way of life are known as Rastafari, Rastas, Rastafarians, or simply Ras. Rastafari are also known by their official church titles, such as Elder or High Priest. The way of life is sometimes referred to as “Rastafarianism”, but this term is considered offensive by most Rastafari, who, being critical of “isms” (which they see as a typical part of Babylon culture), dislike being labelled as an “ism” themselves.

The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before his coronation. In Amharic, Ras, literally “head”, is an Ethiopian title equivalent to prince or chief, while the personal given name Täfäri (teferi) means one who is revered. Jah is a Biblical name of God, from a shortened form of Jahweh or Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible. Most adherents see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, an incarnation of God the Father, the Second Advent of Christ “the Anointed One”, i.e. the Second Coming of Jesus Christ the King to Earth.

Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica and Ethiopia. Ethiopian Christianity traces its roots to the Church of Alexandria, founded by St.Mark and its 5th-century continuation in theCoptic Church Alexandria Rastafari holds many Christian beliefs like the existence of a triunrGod, called Jah, who had sent his Divine incarnate to Earth in theRastafari_lion_Marley_Selassie form of Jesus (Yeshua) and made himself manifest as the divine person of Haile Selassie I. Rastafari accept much of the Bible, although they believe that its message and interpretation have been corrupted.

The Rastafari way of life encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression, and sensual pleasures, called Babylon.

It proclaims Zion, in reference to Ethiopia, as the original birthplace of humankind, and from the beginning of the way of life calls for repatriation to Zion, the Promised Land and Heaven on Earth.

By 1997 there were, according to one estimate, around one million Rastafari worldwide. In the 2011 Jamaican census, 29,026 individuals identified themselves as Rastafari. Other sources estimated that in the 2000s they formed “about 5% of the population” of Jamaica, or conjectured that “there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafari in Jamaica”.


The word “reggae” was coined around 1960 in Jamaica to identify a “ragged” style of dance music, that still had its roots in New Orleans rhythm’n’blues. However, reggae soon acquired the lament-like style of chanting and emphasized the syncopated beat. It also made explicit the relationship with the underworld of the “Rastafarians” (adepts of a millenary African faith, revived Marcus Garvey who advocated a mass emigration back to Africa), both in the lyrics and in the appropriation of the African nyah-bingi drumming style (a style that mimicks the heartbeat with its pattern of “thump-thump, pause, thump-thump”). Compared with rock music, reggae music basically inverted the role of bass and guitar: the former was the lead, the latter beat the typical hiccupping pattern. The paradox of reggae, of course, is that this music “unique to Jamaica” is actually not Jamaican at all, having its foundations in the USA and Africa.

An independent label, Island, distributed Jamaican records in the UK throughout the 1960s, but reggae became popular in the UK only when Prince Buster’s Al Capone (1967) started a brief “dance craze”. Jamaican music was very much a ghetto phenomenon, associated with gang-style violence, but Jimmy Cliff’s Wonderful World Beautiful People (1969) wed reggae with the “peace and love” philosophy of the hippies, an association that would not die away. In the USA, Neil Diamond’s Red Red Wine (1967) was the first reggae hit by a pop musician. Shortly afterwards, Johnny Nash’s Hold Me Tight (1968) propelled reggae onto the charts. Do The Reggay (1968) by Toots (Hibbert) And The Maytals was the record that gave the music its name. Fredrick Toots Hibbert’s vocal style was actually closer to gospel, as proved by their other hits (54-46, 1967; Monkey Man, 1969; Pressure Drop, 1970).

A little noticed event would have far-reaching consequences: in 1967, the Jamaican disc-jockey Rudolph “Ruddy” Redwood had begun recording instrumental versions of reggae hits. The success of his dance club was entirely due to that idea. Duke Reid, who was now the owner of the Trojan label, was the first one to capitalize on the idea: he began releasing singles with two sides: the original song and, on the back, the instrumental remix. This phenomenon elevated the status of dozens of recording engineers.

Reggae music was mainly popularized by Bob Marley (1), first as the co-leader of the Wailers, the band that promoted the image of the urban guerrilla with Rude Boy (1966) and that cut the first album of reggae music, Best Of The Wailers (1970); and later as the political and religious (rasta) guru of the movement, a stance that would transform him into a star, particularly after his conversion to pop-soul melody with ballads such as Stir It Up (1972), I Shot The Sheriff (1973) and No Woman No Cry (1974).

Among the reggae vocal groups, the Abyssinians’ Satta Massa Gana (1971) is representative of the mood of the era.

In 1972 reggae became a staple of western radio stations thanks to the film The Harder They Come.REGGAE MUSIC