History of Dreadlocks in Jamaican Culture

profile of a woman with dreadlocks

Bob Marley brought dreadlocks into mainstream culture in the 1970s and locs have become tied to Jamaican culture ever since. Dreadlocks have different significance for different cultures, and people choose to wear them for a variety of reasons, including spiritually, politically, and just because they love the look.

Here on the Timeless MoBay Car Rental blog, we love sharing our Jamacian culture with visitors to our island. And one of the things people think of first when they think of Jamaica is Rastafari culture, Marley, and dreadlocks. So in today’s post, we’ll be looking at the history of dreadlocks in Jamaica and more broadly in American culture. Continue reading to learn more, and as you plan your trip to Montego Bay, be sure to schedule your car rental and airport pickup with Timeless MoBay. 

Brief Global History

Contrary to popular belief, Jamaicans didn’t invent dreadlocks. In fact, dreadlocks can be traced to nearly every civilization across history. No matter the race, there have been spiritual connections to dreadlocks. Tomb carvings show Ancient Egyptians rocking the look and in The Vedas, Hinduism’s oldest scriptures dating to 2500 B.C., The Vedas, show the God Shiva wearing locs. 

Rastafarian Culture

While there is a rich global history of dreadlocks, Jamaican Rastafarian culture brought locs to contemporary mainstream culture. Growing dreadlocks is part of the Rastafari religion, and Rastarians believe that like Samson in the Bible, their hair is their strength and should not be cut. 

The term “dreadlock,” however, does come from the Rastafarian culture and, along with being a religious vow, also functioned as a sign of African identity. Wearing hair in locs was a way to signify the difference between Rastafarian culture and the historically white imperialist structure. For a Rastafarian, the style was more a way of life than a style choice. They are something you cultivate over decades and symbolize strength and inner power. 

Rastafarians were persecuted in Jamaica and they would be arrested and intimidated by having their hair forcefully cut off. Many early Rastarians moved to the bush and dreadlocks gained more power as an anti-establishment symbol. The core of the style remains nonconformist, even as it becomes more popular. And when you schedule your car rental and drive around our island, you’re sure to see some people rocking their locs.

The Locking Process

Locs can be created in several different ways, but the comb twist method is the most popular. The hair is twisting with a comb starting at the root until it forms a coil. This process takes three to six months, and after two years or so the locs become “mature” or completely locked. 

Tips For Care

  • Wash every 1-2 weeks
  • Dry thoroughly
  • Keep hair moisturized
  • Sleep in a satin scarf or bonnet

Timeless MoBay Car Rental

We hope that you’re learned a bit more about the history of locs in Jamaica and that learning about this hairstyle has made you even more excited about your trip to our island! We provide airport pickup along with car rental in Montego Bay, so that you can get out on the road and onto the beach. Book your rental car today and get one step closer to enjoying the Jamacian sun.