What Are Traditional Viking Braids Meaning And History?

Viking culture steadily gained interest with the rise of Vikings, a television show that has thus far aired for six seasons. There was increasing curiosity about these people, many wanting to know if they were accurately being depicted in the show. Since then, there’s been a deep dive into various aspects of their lives, hair included. What’s seen on the screen is anything from simple to intricate braids done, and it’s mostly on warriors before they head out to war.

Thus, for some, the rising trend in women, and some men, opting for Viking braids is as per what they’ve seen portrayed. There is a strong like for Viking culture portrayed, and some are more than happy to adopt it in their lives. However, are they accurately embracing Viking culture? Let’s look at the past and the present has to offer us in responding to this and more questions.

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What are the Viking braids?

traditional viking hairstyles female

Viking braids currently refer to a trend in braiding that the show Vikings popularized. It is simple, consisting of two large braids on either side of the head, and a smaller section where one would do a French braid. From how they looked on the screen, there is nothing neat about them. It’s therefore preferred that you make the braids on the second to four days since you washed your hair.

If you want them to look sleek, then they wouldn’t count as Viking braids anymore since those are somewhat messy. That said, there are those with different hair textures and lengths, so there being a uniform Viking braid is near impossible. Your level of skill in sectioning your hair and braiding too does have an impact. Those who prefer something that appears professionally done, albeit rugged, can consider visiting a hairstylist.

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You don’t have to get the simple braids suggested. There are pages on platforms such as Pinterest that show tons of said Viking braids that you can adopt. Some incorporate knotting styles, and others have pins and clips reminiscent of ancient times. Even with the myriad of versions of the Viking braids available, you’ll note that in most, the hair at the back of the head is left open. Essentially, only half of your hair will consist of braids, the others being let loose. These styles are great if you have a ton of hair, but you can also add products and extensions to add volume.

The truth about Viking braids

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While this is the current representation of what Viking braids look like, it’s not likely that this is an accurate picture. For centuries, Vikings have been depicted as filthy, depending on who was describing them. Accounts, however, tell a different story. Their cleanliness currently does not meet our current standards; they did bath every Saturday and would frequently change their clothes. For the men, they had short hair, long fringes, and well-groomed beards, while the women wore their hair at the top of their head, braided with a ribbon.

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What about men in braids? There is the prevailing perception that we see in the media about Viking men in braids is accurate. Confirming it might not be simple, as people in a given society tend to adopt varying hairstyles. Even so, it was likely that men with long hair would braid their hair when they went to war. They wanted them tucked under their helmets to avoid interference during battle.

What do braids represent?

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In the Viking context, it would be near impossible to convey the meaning of braids. From artifacts and other findings from that era, there is little detail with regards to how their hair looked like. In general, it is quitelikely that the Vikings did not braid at all, and if they did, it was rare. They were practical people, and in the even someone braided their hair, it was to that effect.

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However, in a broader cultural context, braids carried significant people. For example, in African tribes, braiding and cornrows have existed for millenniums. Men and women would wear them to signify their age, marital status, wealth, religion, and even the tribe they came from. That’s why tons of braid designs exists in the continent, some of the notable ones being from the Fulani. Alicia Keys, in her song Fallin’ is seen wearing these.

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Now, looking back to the depictions of Viking braids in the media, one can consider terming the braids as a sign of their overall fierceness. Most of those with braids are warriors, with the braids serving to keep hair out of their face during war. Another aspect you’ll note is not all braids are simply done. There are those with intricate knots and designs, holding more of a mystical meaning than one would consider at first glance.

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Vikings were large in symbols, and most of them had intricate designs. While they were different from the Celts in terms of culture beliefs, and even gods, there were likely influences of the same. There is evidence that these two people did use knots in their artwork and even tapestry. Since the Vikings were religious, it would likely that, for example, an intricate design of part of Thor’s harmer would be used in a while braiding. Overall, one would assume they’d pick braiding styles that did depict not only strength but wealth and status.

Wrap up

The media largely dictate viking braids in modern contexts. Characters were conjured up in a writer room, and a fashion stylist on the set opted to add braids to the overall look. Thus, given the limited evidence and probability, it is unlikely Viking braids existed on a large scale. It’s thus also thought that they held no meaning but used for practical purposes. Remember, Vikings did not come up with braiding, if the thought ever crossed your mind.

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