Art and Life Among the Zaramo of Tanzania

by Diane Pelrine
Indiana University Art Museum

This girl wears a style in which the hair was plaited toward the center of the back of the head and arranged in a small knot; in 1985 it was named “Kishitobe,” Zaramo peoples, Tanzania. Photo by Diane Pelrine.

Hairstyling is an important personal art for Zaramo females.  Plaited hair is most common, and styles are given names by the stylists.  Some of the names are known over a wide area, while other names may vary from place to place and over time.  Some of the names are literally descriptive: a style called "two-two," for example, refers to one with two plaits on each side.  Others refer to things or events that the stylist thinks the pattern resembles or to events she wishes to commemorate.  This girl wears a style in which the hair was plaited toward the center of the back of the head and arranged in a small knot; in 1985 it was named "Kishitobe," the name said to be that of a ship from Japan with a large cargo door in the back that had sat in Dar es Salaam harbor for some time.