Cover image for Dreads
Mastalia, Francesco.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Artisan, 1999.
Physical Description:
144 pages : chiefly illustrations ; 31 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TR680 .M348 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
TR680 .M348 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



Dreadlocks are a modern phenomenon with roots reaching as far back as the fifth century. According to ancient Hindu beliefs, dreads signified a singleminded pursuit of the spiritual. Devotion to God displaced vanity, and hair was left to its own devices.

Dreads captures this organic explosion of hair in all its beautiful, subversive glory. One hundred duotone portraits present dread-heads from around the world, in all walks of life. Interviewed on location by the photographers, jatta- wearers wax philosophic about the integrity of their hair, and every stunning image confirms their choice. Alice Walker puts words to pictures, offering lyrical ruminations about her decision to let her own mane mat.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Alice Walker sets the backdrop for this book by sharing her personal hair stories in the introduction. The photographers traveled the world to photograph and interview people from many cultures who don "dreads." This misunderstood hairstyle is given validity and integrity through each stunning image. The text explores the multicultural aspects of dreads, from their roots in the fifth century to the religious and cultural foundations to the contemporary option for many men and women of all cultures: Rastafarians (Jamaica), Hindus (India), Rasta-Buddhists (Japan), Africans (Kenya, Ghana), and African Americans. The personal testimonies of the individuals describe the liberation and philosophic nature of wearing natural hair. This presentation is unique because the factual information is shared with no judgment or bias from the authors. Readers interested in learning about the true meaning of the dreadlocked head will find answers in this book. --Lillian Lewis

School Library Journal Review

YA-This large, coffee-table type book with black-and-white photographs looks at the wide diversity of people who sport this knotted, ropelike hairdo. Some display it theatrically, while others wear it to stress their individuality. Others have religious or political reasons. The author also looks at dreadlocks in history, including the priests of the Ethiopian Coptic Church who have been locking their hair since the fifth century and the Rastafarian movement, which began religiously in Ethiopia. There is an introduction by Alice Walker as well as a 20-page treatise on "Sacred Rites of the Natural Hair Revolution." The 100 plates of men, women, and children in various cultures and at varying levels of modernity show this amazing hairstyle doing its thing in variety and abundance. The hair itself arouses interest and speculation as to the time involved in achieving it, the intricacies of the hygiene, and simply the wonder of it all.-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Considering the prevalence of dreadlocks today and their twentieth-century Jamaican roots, it's tempting to view them as just another outgrowth of multiculturalism, a blatant badge of membership in the global village. But the current craze for dreadlocks can be deceptive: In fact, the style dates back to the dawn of civilization. India's sadhus and sadhvis--mendicant ascetics of the Hindu faith--have been locking their hair for pre-Christian centuries, from the time when their ancestral warriors fought for royal rulers. Matted locks, or jatta, are considered a divine directive, symbolic of the the covenant between the sadhus and Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration. Tresses are roped in emulation of the deities: Skanda, depicted with six matted locks--one for each of his faces; Huniyan, marked with five--or three in his demonic incarnation. Jatta announces that its owner adheres to the strict spiritual and sexual practices, including poverty and celibacy, outlined over two thousand years ago in the Naradaparivrajaka Upanished. The Old Testament recounts the tale of Sampson and Delilah, in which a man's potency is directly related to the "seven locks" upon his head. Jesus of Nazareth would have returned from his forty days in the desert with matted hair. Excerpted from Dreads by Francesco Mastalia. Copyright (c) 1999. Reprinted with permission by Artisan. Excerpted from Dreads by Francesco Mastalia, Alfonse Pagano All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Alice Walker
"Dreads"p. 8
Sacred Rites of the Natural Hair Revolutionp. 10
Portraitsp. 30
List of Platesp. 142
Acknowledgmentsp. 143
Indexp. 144