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Traditional Yoruba Hairstyles

Updated on May 23, 2017
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Yoruba hairstyle
Yoruba hairstyle

Yoruba Hairstyles

The Yoruba people are one of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. They are predominantly scholars, farmers and traders.

The women are very creative when it comes to style, beauty, fashion and hair. It is amazing the different types of hair styles in Yoruba land.

This shouldn’t be surprising based on their history and enviable folklore as the cradle of civilization. Yoruba traditional hair styles are generally grouped by styling methodology.

The two basic styles are hand made plaited hair( irun didi) and tied with thread/braided (irun kiko). The plaited hair is created based on the dexterity of the stylist using the client’s natural hair.

The braided type relies on different extensions usually plastic plating threads. The hair styles had other significant functions than mere beauty.

It also carried social commentary such as landmark occasions and festivals. Some hair styles depicted marriage status, royalty or religious dispensation.

Yoruba hairstyle


Yoruba Traditional Hair Style Names

Another interesting fact is that every Yoruba hair style has significant names that celebrate an occasion, historical event or fun. Some depicts social status, marriage, sophistication, youth, grieving and even social commentary.

Some hair styles translated to English are 'boys follow me', 'the kings crown', 'money brings social acceptance'. Common Yoruba hair styles are Eko Bridge, alhaja, ogun pari, ikoto, ade-oba, and face–to-face.



Listed below are names of Yoruba hair styles translated to English.

  • The kings crown
  • Money is pride
  • Pile up
  • Gong
  • The squatting Dog
  • Rain don’t beat the ears
  • Eko bridge
  • End of the war
  • John Kennedy
  • Face-to face
  • Pit

Yoruba Comb

Yoruba Comb
Yoruba Comb

Traditions Yoruba hair styling implements

The amazing fact is that the over 100 hair styles are created using simple tools. The stylist uses a wooden comb called the Oya.

The Oya may vary in size however they feature a wooden comb with three teeth. Traditional stylists also use local hair creams and plastic plating threads for braided styles.

If the client opts for plaiting they use only the natural hair. There are also variation using both braiding and weaving.

  • Plastic plating threads
  • Local cream
  • Native comb

Shuku Hairstyle


Notable Yoruba Hair Styles- SHUKU

The shuku hair style has a significant place in Yoruba hair styling. There are many variations to this popular style that involves braiding to form a rump on top of the head.

Sometimes referred to as suku the simple style is sometimes complemented with side plaiting. This hairstyle was formerly a reserve for wives of royalty. The style is now common to young ladies, school girls and married women.

The simplicity makes it easy execute and less time consuming. Different types of suku are suku Elegbe,suku Na Poi, Suku Onididi and Suku Sesema.

Others are Sinero Kiko, suku fula, shuku ologede, twin suku. They also have ceremonial suku plaited with braids attached to the rump cascading on all sides. Modern types of suku involves intricate plaiting to form flowers and sections.

Yoruba Female Hairstyles

Yoruba Styles

Status hairstyles
Contemporary styles
Boys follow me
Native Comb
Two steps
Local Creams
Local Thread


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Yoruba hairstyle

Yoruba Hair Styles that Depict Monuments

Eko Bridge

The Eko bridge hair style represents a bridge in Lagos Nigeria. Much like the bridge the stylist divides the hair into ten or eleven sections. The thin braids are then twists to form a bridge at a focal point above the head.


The hair is made to look like a road round about. The stylist divides the natural hair from the center of the head into small triangular sections.

The partition stops midway leaving natural hair untouched at the back. They then plait with native thread (plastic plating threads) from middle of the small triangle. The long strands are then intricately woven into a circular design.

National Theatre

This hair style is to commemorate the building of the national theater in Lagos Nigeria. Fashioned to look like the monument it also features a depression in the center.

Different hairstyles

Yoruba hairstyles
Yoruba hairstyles

Yoruba Hair Style for Special Occasions


Ogun pari literarily means end of the war. The hair style was created to commemorate the end of the Nigerian civil war.

The natural hair is divided into large sections and plastic plating thread used to make long thin braids. The braids are then bent into large arch’s connecting the thin tops to the bottom of adjacent braids.

Modern Hairstyle

Modern Hairstyle
Modern Hairstyle

Yoruba Hair Style Identifying Religious Beliefs


The Ere hair style identifies worshipers of Esu a deity. The deity is believed to protect travelers and has powers over fortunes and misfortunes.

The style involves a single lone growth of hair at front or center of the head. The single strand identifies with a pig tail has certain religious significance to that faith.


The male hair style identifies member of Aragberi clan. They are noted for ancient knowledge of magic and herbs. It also identifies members of Mesa royal family of the old Oyo.


A repeated cycle of birth, death and rebirth of young children to a family are called abiku. Abiku children have hair shaved on either side every two weeks.

This ritual honors a deity Osanyin, the god of medicine. Court messengers and faithful wear similar hairstyles.


The dada hair style depicts the person’s spirituality. Some Yoruba’s believe that natural dense hair has religious significance.

The hair is left to grow into dreadlocks from a young age. The hair style is popular with priests and faithful of Olokun deity. The parents of such kids believe if they cut the hair it may cause sickness or death.

Ethnic hair


A Comprehensive List of Yoruba Hair Styles

  • Patewo-( meaning clap your hands
  • Pineapple
  • Panumo-(meaning Shut Up
  • Pakunpo-(knock knee
  • Police cap
  • Remo carpet
  • Scissors
  • Two steps
  • Second all African games
  • Shuku
  • Telephone wire
  • Three jolly friends
  • Three star
  • Udoji
  • Zigzag
  • Onile gogoro
  • Alhaja
  • Ogun pari
  • Eko bridge
  • Nigeria drive right
  • National thearther
  • Edabo
  • Roundabout
  • Ipako elede (pigs nape
  • Half parting
  • Face cap
  • Face-to-face
  • Danfo
  • Dada
  • Back parting
  • Coiling penny penny
  • Brush kiko
  • Beri beri
  • Boys follow me
  • Baret
  • Aro meta
  • Agogo (gong
  • Abeti aja (dog ears
  • Banana leaf

© 2017 femi


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