The modern variations of tribal braids are anything but difficult-to-carry updos and heavy buns. Check out these hot and easy braids hairstyles to inspire your next style.
The trend of tribal braids may appear modern but it’s been around for millennia. Originating from Africa, tribal braids represented status and lifestyle. They also presented the personality and customs of a family differentiating it from others.
These days, these braids are done in modern styles and don’t need lots of accessories. You can find simpler styles with tribal braids starting from the middle to more complicated styles where braids run in swirls.
History of Tribal Braids
Tribal braids originated as a celebration of feminism and prosperity and symbolized love and family and tribal heritage. Also, they presented spiritual elements like protection from evil and luck. Different families upheld various braiding styles which were passed down to the next generations.
Depending on the social standing of these families, these braids were adorned by silver coins or amber woven into the braids. These precious accessories were also handed down to the next generations as familial or tribal heirlooms.
Although these braids originated as spiritual and social symbols of womanhood, they also helped in keeping their hair protected and out of the way for months. With these braids on, kinky hair couldn’t tangle much, avoiding damage that may result from tangling.
Historically, tribal braids were worn in sophisticated sand well-pampered updos. Their modernized versions aren’t so formal. Most modern braids are let down allowing easy styling for casual living.
35 Tribal Braids to Try
The modern-day ease of these braids allows us to incorporate them into our lifestyles. Use these tribal braids with modern twists as inspiration for your next hairdo.
1- Swirl Pattern
Start with making four to five cornrows in a swirl from the middle of the head curving up to the right. The remaining hair on the top head will swirl down so do the back and left side hair. The style looks cool with long tribal braids cascading down to the waist.
2- Diverse Swirl Pattern
The swirl pattern mentioned above goes in a single direction. Feel free to get a parting pattern that uses three different directions for cornrows. For example, you can allow the front hair to be side-parted and curved up towards the larger side. Then, the smaller side’s hair will go to the side of the head in a curved pattern of cornrows. On the same side, hair from the back of the ear will go back down making the third direction for swirling. You can see this hairstyle will keep hair to one side of the head leaving the other side neat and light.
3- Zigzag Part
The zigzag part gives a fun modern appearance for those who prefer a more intricate look. Complete it with a half-up with silver or gold wrap.
4- Two Layered
The effect of this parting style is similar to the zigzag style as it shows braids alternating each other but the difference is in direction. This style starts some cornrows from the front of the head and some of them are started from a few inches back. All of them go back to offer a pulled-back hairstyle.
5- Middle Parted with a Twist
This thick and luxurious style is for bold souls. From the front, it looks simple: you get cornrows with the middle part. Then, the part moves to one side and halfway to the top head, it takes a 90° turn to go to the other side. Use thick braids to emphasize the pattern.
6- Swirl Pattern in Half-Up
While the swirl pattern is easy and frank, it isn’t the best choice for productive days. Keep these braids out of your eyes with a half-up hairstyle. It will only take two front cornrows from each side to tie at the back for a half-up.
7- Middle Part Swirl with Double Half Knot
For formal occasions or busy office days, get this style and flaunt without worrying about lost efficiency. Add a color of your choice and make the braids jumbo. Don’t forget to let a couple of braids from each side fall forward.
8- Simple Side-Part
Bring versatility into your hairstyles by sticking to the simplest braid parting. With a side part, you can choose between hair down, bun, and half-up every day. On formal occasions, accessorize your braids with cuffs, wraps, or beads.
9- The Heart Pattern
It features only one heart on each side of the head. A more sophisticated look arises when a heart pattern is combined with a side part. Only on the smaller side, feature the heart-shaped cornrows that will be the only face-framing braid for that side.
10- Side-Parted with a Twist
Instead of braiding cornrows to each side of the side-part, you will braid the smaller side’s hair backward. The larger side will go to the side as usual. This neat look can be complemented with cuffs and an ombre.
11- Pulled-Back Cornrows
These braids are perfect for young girls who are more interested in play than in looks and style. Apart from a couple of face-framing braids on the front, all cornrows move back towards the center of the head to form a ponytail-like style. Accessorize with beads.
12- Use a Dye
These braids can confirm a punky outlook. And you don’t have to color your hair pink to get the persona. Instead, dye a single braid. The highlight can be of any bright color including purple, pink, or even gold. Or simply weave in the right color of braiding hair and flaunt unapologetically.
13- Indigo Dye
For those who want a bolder color, indigo is the choice. No, it’s muter than purple but when you use it for all braids. Get it on your long braids. Wear them in a high, half-knot bun and you are ready for the party.
14- Fan Part Braids
Embrace this hairstyle if you want to keep your attention focused on your face. The fan partitions will start from the forehead and disperse as they go back to the head. Unsurprisingly, this style keeps braids out of the eyes of the wearer.
15- Four-Cornered Star
This style for hair partings starts with two cornrows from the back and two from the front of the top head and moves to the center. Once in the center, these cornrows are braided sideways to get a star shape. Other cornrows simply go sideways or back. Light up the star by dying it in bright colors like blonde or silver.
16- Side-Parted Cornrows
It’s simple and easygoing. Keep the braids from the smaller side behind the ear and let other braids frame the face. When needed, use a pair of braids from each side to tie in a half-up style.
17- Simple and Long
Swirls are good but that isn’t a necessity and you can get long braids without worrying about the pattern. Once done, let them down or tie in buns, half buns, and ponytails. Accessorize them with beads or clips to glamourize them.
18- Braided High Knot
This style needs cornrows from every corner of the head to come to the middle of the top head. There, form a high knot by tying all of these for formal occasions or appearances. Give your head a breather by letting these braids down when at home.
19- Sunkissed Braids
This modern twist uses the balayage technique to impart a lighter color to the tips of the hair. So, the roots of your tribal braids will have dark black or dark brown shade and the tips will get a lighter shade of brown. The beauty of the balayage technique is in its dimension as some braids will have lighter shades while others will have darker ones.
20- Blonde with Black
Recreate the sunkissed effect but this time make it louder. Start with your black or dark brown natural hair and use blonde extension hair to braid cornrows. Choose from simple, swirls, or sideways cornrows. Let a pair of braids fall to the front and accessorize with beads. Or get a bolder look with big pearls.
21- Silver Wrap
This style gives a new look to a conventional braiding element – silver wrap. Instead of using this wrap on all or most braids, only use them on a single strand on each side of the head. Most styles use wrap on the front cornrows. But it doesn’t hurt to add it to another couple of braids in the middle.
22- Gold Wrap
If silver doesn’t go with any occasion or your dress choice, get a gold wrap.
Parties deserve styling up. For such occasions, use clips, beads, and cuffs. Choose cute floral patterns for clips and cuffs and decorate the front braids. Or accessorize the tips of all braids with beads of matching colors.
24- Use Wooden Beads
Celebrate the heritage with accessories from the past. Wear these beads on simple, jumbo, or box braids. These are good for when you want to let your hair down.
25- Loose Curls
Tribal braids with curls look best with long braids but you can also get them for shoulder-length locks. Stop braiding halfway through the braids. Curl the remaining length to offer volume and versatility to the style.
26- Curly Ponytail
This unique style combines braids with curls. Once you have woven the braiding hair and braided the cornrows to the back of the head for a ponytail, let the remaining length in loose curls. Use a curling iron to get the desired texture. Then, using hair from a couple of braids, tie the ponytail.
27- Double Colored Box Braids
This middle-part style allows you to present your bold personality without affecting natural hair. It only needs braiding hair of your desired color and uses small parts to make box braids.
28- Short and Beaded, in Two Colors
This style doesn’t demand high maintenance but looks chic and glamorous. Start with pulled-back cornrows with a lighter shade for braiding hair than your natural hair. The short brads will be only neck-long and get loads of beads for their ends.
29- Dual Crochet Braids
Use braiding hair that has a strikingly contrasting color to your natural hair to weave jumbo braids. Choose to crochet them into all your braids and get dual chrome braids all over your head. Or only use the contrast for the front, face-framing braids to keep attention on them.
30- Fulani Braids with Crown Braid
Mix the modern crown braid with your African heritage of tribal braids to impart a uniquely glamorous look. Before braiding the crown braid, don’t forget to leave the front hair to make tribal cornrows later. Use cuffs to adorn the crown braid and Fulani beads for the tribal braids.
31- Stitch Tribal Braids
This technique has made braiding easier for girls. Keep your natural hair protected and stitch these braids. For more beauty, get jumbo stitch braids. Tie in a high ponytail.
32- Jumbo Tribal Braids
These braids are made on small parts and use lots of braiding hair to appear thick. Tie in a high knot or get a half-up to complete the carefree look.
33- High Knot with Multi-Texture Braids
Most tribal braids styles either use thin, thick, or jumbo braids. But you can add fun and style by mixing up all these volumes. Use top braids to tie a top knot. Let the ends of other braids loose in curls to add beauty.
34- Short Jumbo Braids
If jumbo braids feel too heavy, go for short lengths to make it easy on the head. Accessorize with beads and let the ends loose. Or maybe go for wraps in contrasting colors.
35- Front Braids
This is the swirl pattern you should use for a round face but you have to tolerate the braids falling on your face while supporting this style. Half of the front hair will be braided to the front. Others will swirl back or sideways. Accessorize with wraps or beads.
Tribal braids originated as a symbol of societal prominence and familial or tribal identity among African societies. Initially, these styles were complicated and were worn high in buns and updos. Modern variations of these styles are different. They are simple and light and easy to carry or maintain. And they don’t represent wearers’ relation to a certain tribe.