How Tanavoho hairstyle inspired Rihanna’s hair puffs

How Tanavoho hairstyle inspired Rihanna’s hair puffs

Rihanna’s hair puffs are inspired by the Tanavoho hairstyle common amongst the Malagasy people, a tribe that originated from Madagascar.

It is a female hairstyles, which was the common style for the single Sakalava women, the Sakalava being an etnic group living in the north of the island. It is a crowm braid with large volume.

The Sakalava people are a semi-nomadic ethnic group occupying Madagascar’s western coastline and who once had an empire ruling over almost half the island.

The Sakalava people were the first to form an empire in Madagascar in the late 16th century. By the mid-17th century, trading slaves and cattle with Europeans for guns enabled them to attain great power until they were overthrown by another Malagasy ethnic group: the Merina. Now, after the decline of their kingdom, their main occupation is cattle farming.

The Sakalava people are a semi-nomadic ethnic group based along the western coastline of Madagascar, whose name is said to mean ‘people of the long valleys’. They have an estimated population of approximately 1.4 million and are widely spread across a third of the island, rearing cattle on large areas of grassland and growing rice.

How Tanavoho hairstyle inspired Rihanna’s hair puffs
How Tanavoho hairstyle inspired Rihanna’s hair puffs

Over the years the Sakalava people located in the north and south parts of the island have developed many cultural differences. However, the one thing all Sakalava have in common is a respect for royalty – both living and deceased. They have a clear caste system with descendants of royalty at the top of the hierarchy, followed by nobles, commoners.

Traditional Sakalava religion – called ‘Fomba Gasy’ – focuses on worshipping and appeasing royalty and their ancestors. There is a strong belief in sorcery and witchcraft; their God – who is believed to be the first ancestor – can be reached through mediums and being possessed by spirits. A historic ceremonial procession, called ‘Tromba’, is very important to the Sakalava people.

Initiated by dady priests who preserved the remains of royals after their death, it involves divining ancestral spirits and sharing their messages with the people. More recently, many people have also begun to practice Islam or Catholicism alongside their traditional religious practices.

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