A tignon (also spelled and pronounced tiyon) is a type of headcovering—a large piece of material tied or wrapped around the head to form a kind of turban that somewhat resembles the West African gele. It was worn by Creole women of African descent in Louisiana beginning in the Spanish colonial period, and continuing to a lesser extent to the present day.
This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced oppressive public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society.
Historian Virginia M. Gould notes that Miró hoped the law would control women "who had become too light skinned or who dressed too elegantly, or who, in reality, competed too freely with white women for status and thus threatened the social order."
Miró's intent of having the tignon mark inferiority had a somewhat different effect, according to historian Carolyn Longwho noted: "Instead of being considered a badge of dishonor, the tignon ... became a fashion statement. The bright reds, blues, and yellows of the scarves, and the imaginative wrapping techniques employed by their wearers, are said to have enhanced the beauty of the women of color."
The women who were targets of this decree were inventive and imaginative. They decorated tignons with their jewels and ribbons, and used the finest available materials to wrap their hair. In other words, "[t]hey effectively re-interpreted the law without technically breaking the law"—and they continued to be pursued by men.
The tignon can be wrapped in many ways, and it was and is worn in a different way by every woman. Madras was a popular fabric for tignons among both free and enslaved populations, and has become iconic. Tignons were often created out of mis-matched scraps of undyed fabric given to slaves by their masters. The patchwork of material was made to appear festive. Tignons worn by free women of color or enslaved women in Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Dominica, was made from Madras fabric, even had hidden messages.
The tignon is experiencing a revival in Louisiana. It is found particularly in Creole-themed weddings. Celebrities such as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott continue to wear headdresses, as a celebration of Afro-American culture.
A turban is a type of headwear based on cloth winding. Featuring many variations, it is worn as customary headwear by people of various cultures. Communities with prominent turban-wearing traditions can be found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and amongst some Turkic peoples in Russia as well as Ashkenazi Jews.
In the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, free people of color were primarily people of mixed African, European, and Native American descent who were not enslaved. However, the term also applied to people born free who were primarily Black African with little mixture. They were a distinct group of free people of color in the French colonies, including Louisiana and in settlements on Caribbean islands, such as Saint-Domingue (Haiti), St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. In these territories and major cities, particularly New Orleans, and those cities held by the Spanish, a substantial third class of primarily mixed-race, free people developed. These colonial societies classified mixed-race people in a variety of ways, generally related to visible features and to the proportion of African ancestry. Racial classifications were numerous in Latin America.
The Creole case was a slave revolt aboard the American slave ship Creole in November 1841, when the brig was seized by the 128 slaves who were aboard the ship when it reached Nassau in the British colony of the Bahamas where slavery was abolished. The brig was transporting enslaved people as part of the coastwise slave trade in the American South. It has been described as the "most successful slave revolt in US history". Two died in the revolt, an enslaved person and a member of the crew.
Plaçage was a recognized extralegal system in French and Spanish slave colonies of North America by which ethnic European men entered into civil unions with non-Europeans of African, Native American and mixed-race descent. The term comes from the French placer meaning "to place with". The women were not legally recognized as wives but were known as placées; their relationships were recognized among the free people of color as mariages de la main gauche or left-handed marriages. They became institutionalized with contracts or negotiations that settled property on the woman and her children and, in some cases, gave them freedom if they were enslaved. The system flourished throughout the French and Spanish colonial periods, reaching its zenith during the latter, between 1769 and 1803.
Louisiana Creoles are people descended from the inhabitants of colonial Louisiana before it became a part of the U.S. during the period of both French and Spanish rule. As an ethnic group, their ancestry is mainly of French, African, Spanish or Native American origin. Louisiana Creoles share cultural ties such as the traditional use of the French, Spanish, and Louisiana Creole languages and predominant practice of Catholicism.
Henriette Díaz DeLille was a Louisiana Creole of Color and Catholic nun from New Orleans. Her father was a white man from France, her mother was a "quadroon", and her grandfather came from Spain. She founded the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1836 and served as their first Mother Superior. The sisters are the second-oldest surviving congregation of African-American nuns.
The Sisters of the Holy Family are a Catholic religious order of African-American nuns based in New Orleans, Louisiana. They were founded in 1837 as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Henriette DeLille, adopting the current name in 1842. They were the second Black religious order in the United States, after Mother Mary Lange's Oblate Sisters of Providence.
Isle of Canes (ISBN 1-59331-306-3), a novel by Elizabeth Shown Mills, follows an African family from its importation and enslavement in 1735 through four generations of freedom in Creole Louisiana to its re-subjugation by Jim Crow at the close of the nineteenth century. Mills explores the family's "struggle to find a place in [a] tightly defined world of black and white" — a world made more complex by the larger struggle of Louisiana's native ancien regime to preserve its culture amid the Anglo-Protestant "invasion" that followed the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the resulting battle for political and social hegemony. Isle's central theme is the ambiguous lives of those who escaped colonial slavery only to find they could not survive as free without complicity in the slave regime.
Atlantic Creole is a cultural identity consisting of populations with ties to the Modern transatlantic colonization & settlement of the Americas and Africa. These activities produced admixed populations and creole cultures that primarily flourished in the Americas.
The preservation of fabric fibers and leathers allows for insights into the attire of ancient societies. The clothing used in the ancient world reflects the technologies that these peoples mastered. In many cultures, clothing indicated the social status of various members of society.
Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo, is an African diasporic religion which originated in Louisiana, now in the southern United States. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional religions of West Africa, the Roman Catholic form of Christianity, and Haitian Vodou. No central authority is in control of Louisiana Voodoo, which is organized through autonomous groups.
The Creoles of color are a historic ethnic group of Creole people that developed in the former French and Spanish colonies of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwestern Florida in what is now the United States. French colonists in Louisiana first used the term "Creole" to refer to people born in the colony, rather than in France.
Jean Saint Malo in French, also known as Juan San Maló in Spanish, was the leader of a group of runaway enslaved Africans, known as Maroons, in Spanish Louisiana.
Costume during the thirteenth century in Europe was very simple for both men and women, and quite uniform across the continent. Male and female clothing was relatively similar, and changed very slowly, if at all. Most clothing, especially outside the wealthier classes, remained little changed from three or four centuries earlier. The century saw great progress in the dyeing and working of wool, which was by far the most important material for outerwear. For the rich, colour and rare fabrics such as silk from the silkworm was very important. Blue was introduced and became very fashionable, being adopted by the Kings of France as their heraldic colour.
The Madras, also called the Jip or Jupe, is the national dress of the countries of Dominica, Saint Lucia, and French West Indies. A traditional five piece costume it was originally derived from the Wob Dwyiet, a grand robe worn by the earlier French settlers, and this garment is also recognised as a national dress of the country. The madras is the traditional dress of the women and girls of Dominica and St. Lucia, and its name is derived from the madras cloth, a fabric used in the costume.
Headgear, headwear, or headdress is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's head, including hats, helmets, turbans and many other types. Headgear is worn for many purposes, including protection against the elements, decoration, or for religious or cultural reasons, including social conventions.
Discrimination based on hair texture is a form of social injustice, found worldwide. Afro-textured hair has frequently been seen as being "unprofessional," "unattractive," and "unclean."
African Americans in Louisiana or Black Louisianians are residents of the state of Louisiana who are of African ancestry.
Louis Antoine Collas was a portrait and miniature painter from France. Collas's work primarily consisted of oil paintings and miniature water colors.
The tignon law was a 1786 law enacted by the Spanish Governor of Louisiana Esteban Rodríguez Miró that forced black women to wear a tignon headscarf. The law was intended to halt plaçage unions and tie freed black women to those who were enslaved, but the women who followed the law have been described as turning the headdress into a "mark of distinction".