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The History of Headwraps Worn By Women Of Color

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Photographs by Juliana Kasumu

            From Moussor to Tignon is a collection of works completed by Juliana Kasumu during her summer residency with the Olaju Art Group in New Orleans, LA. Through this photo-essay, she explores the evolution of the headwrap worn by women of color as a means for cultural reclamation during the 18th century. Kasumu’s focus is the cultural exchange between Creoles in Louisiana and signares in Senegal, who wore this style as a form of social protest against oppressive tactics from colonial powers. The headwrap has since become notorious for symbolizing a variety of movements related to African-American culture with origins in West Africa. As a continuation of her Irun Kiko series, From Moussor to Tignon offers a unique perspective into the connections between contemporary fashion and cultural traditions.

By partnering with the Ray Charles Program of African-American Material Culture at Dillard University, we were provided access to resources that shaped the production and research for this project. Our research advisor was subject expert, Madame Barbara Trevigne, who is a published author on topics concerning the tignon and free Creole women of color. During her time in residence, Kasumu made use of the archives at the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. Her accompanied essay looks at the exoticism of the head-tie and how overtime the style has been both re-appropriated and re-appreciated by women of color.

This exhibition will open at the McKenna Museum of African-American Culture on Saturday, September 10th and run until October 10, 2016. The opening reception will feature an artist talk with Juliana Kasumu plus a tignon-tying demonstration facilitated by Madame Barbara Trevigne and sponsored by The Wrap Life. A panel discussion will be held, as well as the official book release of the photo-essay for Kasumu’s latest work. For event info and to RSVP, visit the From Moussor to Tignon Event Page.

Here, participants will be able to engage directly with Juliana Kasumu as she reveals the findings from her research for the first time ever. This series highlights Kasumu’s ability to intertwine cultural history with present-day society in the form of a personal narrative. She presents issues of race, colorism, femininity and colonialism all within the context of particular fashions coming from West Africa. For viewers with an interest in the African Diaspora/African-American Studies, this promises to be entertaining, educational and enlightening.

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