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Zulu Knots
Creating a braid style originated in the Zulu tribes of southern Africa
March 01,2008 / Sherri Gragg
Zulu knots are widely considered to be among the more ethnic hairstyles for African Americans


Zulu knots are widely considered to be among the more ethnic hairstyles for African Americans.  As the name implies, the style originated in the Zulu tribes of southern Africa.  The style is simple, yet dramatic and one of my personal favorites.


Tools Needed:


  1. Wide tooth comb
  2. Rat tail comb
  3. Boars hair brush
  4. Pomade, or cornrow cream
  5. Clear elastics
  6. Styling clips for dividing the hair
  7. Small, colorful decorative clips (optional)


Step One:


Begin with clean, tangle free hair.  Have your child sit in front of you and determine the placement of the parts.  Zulu knots can be formed from hair divided into either square or triangle shaped sections of hair.  The size and number of the sections of hair are personal preference.  For the example here, the childs hair is divided into large triangles. Draw straight parts with a rat tail comb.  Once all parts for the section have been drawn, secure the hair around the section with styling clips to keep it out of the way.




Step Two:


Apply pomade to the section on which you are working and secure closely to the head with ouchless elastics. 

Be careful here.  Secure too loosely and the style will not hold; too tightly and the scalp will become irritated, dry and itchy.  If small bumps form near the part line, you have secured the section too tightly.




Step Three:


Divide the ponytail into two equal sections and twist all the way to the very end.  There is no need to secure  the end of the twist with an elastic, the curl will hold it in place. (For further instructions see the October 2007 edition of Rainbow Kids.)





Step Four: 


With the fingers from one hand placed at the base of the twist, wind the twist all around, forming a knot. 

Twist the very end of the hair securely around the base of the knot.  Repeat this procedure until all hair is divided into sections and knotted.





Step Five:


The length of time the knots stay in place is somewhat dependent on the texture of the hair, but if one pops loose, it is a simple and quick matter to re-twist it.  I have also experimented with wrapping another elastic around the base of the knot a couple of times to help hold it but my favorite solution is to take a moment each morning to place small, colorful clips at the base of each knot.  My girls love it too! 



Coming soon:  Lets Hear it For the Boys:  A Visit to an African American Barber Shop!



*Sherri Gragg is a freelance writer and mom to five, two of whom are adopted from Haiti.  She blogs at www.everydaymiracle.wordpress.com and offers a wide selection of resources for adoptive and ethnic families through her Amazon store at www.sherrigragg.com.  Sherri is a member of The Voices of Adoption community.

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Readers Comments  (7 Comments)  View All Comments
I had a friend hairdresser who styled my daughters hair this way. her hair is long and straight. Imagine her delight after about 4 hours when we took them out and her hair was in these lovely ringlets! - Rich B.- Anonymous
This is great! If you have not already, you could post a youtube video of the process. I have used youtube for how to do a hair bun for my daughter before.- Lina
Thanks for this article. Your instructions and are always so clear and concise. The pictures are very helpful also.- Anonymous
Your daughter is so beautiful! How hard is it to adopt from Haiti right now?- Anonymous
In Jamaica we call this style "Chiney Bumps". My Mother used to spray my hair with setting lotion while it was wet and let it dry over night and then unwind the hair to make pretty drop curls. It was my favorite style and was mostly done for special occasions or for church.- JAgal
I will soon be launching a new site that is all about African hair. Keep an eye out for it!- Sherri Gragg
This is such a great series of articles. Inspiring to this soon-to-be mom of a sibling set from Ethiopia!- Anonymous
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