(Photo: Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon)
In its heyday, people in Rwanda wore the amasunzu in more than 30 different ways. It was a demonstration of elegance and refinement. The East African, a news source based in Kenya, describes how and why people grew it:
The style is designed by cutting some of the hair sideways, towards the middle, then leave it to grow.
“It is a style of elegance, hygiene; it reflected reality and maturity among girls,” said Epa Binamungu, a 60-year-old visual artist. “Most adolescent girls would use it to show pride; it showed that that a girl was a virgin.
“It was a style for the spinsters.”
It was also a way of beautifying the body. Rwandan etiquette is based on the body’s nature. This style was used to reflect important aspects such as might, hygiene and, for unmarried girls, virginity. It was also a way to show class; powerful leaders, nobles and the rich wore the hairstyle.
Although the amasunzu has fallen out of style in recent decades, it is currently experiencing a revival in popular interest.
This video shows a man getting his hair styled in an amasunzu.