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.
Using that scholarship, historian Fernin F. Eaton, a Louisiana native, suggests sagging may be an ironic and modern twist on that defiant Afro-Créole women's protest movement. Eaton opines that while Miró's 1786 edict singled out women for acting "too white," a modern-day version of sumptuary law, i.e., efforts to prohibit the practice of saggin', arguably singles out (largely) black males for not acting "white enough."Saggin' may evidence a continuation of that Afro-Créole defiance, in recognition that African-American males, especially in Louisiana, are disproportionately incarcerated.
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 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.
Creole people are ethnic groups which originated during the colonial era from racial mixing mainly between West Africans as well as some other people born in the colonies, such as Europeans and sometimes South Asian and Native American peoples; this process is known as creolisation. Creole peoples vary widely in ethnic background and mixture and many have since developed distinct ethnic identities. The development of creole languages is sometimes mistakenly attributed to the emergence of creole ethnic identities; however, they are independent developments.
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, Central Asia, North Africa, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa.
Acadiana is the official name given to the French Louisiana region that was historically home to the state's Francophone population. Many are of Acadian descent and now identify as Cajuns or Louisiana Creoles. Of the 64 parishes that make up the U.S. state of Louisiana, 22 named parishes and other parishes of similar cultural environment make up this intrastate region.
In the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, free people of color were people of mixed African, European, and sometimes Native American descent who were not enslaved. The term arose in the French colonies, including Louisiana and settlements on Caribbean islands, such as Saint-Domingue (Haiti), St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique, where a distinct group of free people of color developed. Freed African slaves were included in the term affranchis, but historically they were considered as distinct from the free people of color. 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.
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 Creole people are persons descended from the inhabitants of colonial Louisiana during the period of both French and Spanish rule. Louisiana Creoles share cultural ties such as the traditional use of the French, Spanish, and Louisiana Creole languages and predominant practice of Catholicism.
Congo Square is an open space, now within Louis Armstrong Park, which is located in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, just across Rampart Street north of the French Quarter. The Tremé neighborhood is famous for its history of African American music.
The Institute Catholique, also known as Ecole Des Orphelins Indigents, and the Couvent School, was a school founded in the Faubourg Marigny district of New Orleans in 1840 dedicated to providing a free education to African-American orphans. It was the first school in the United States to offer a free education to African-American children. It also served the non-orphan children of free people of color, who paid a modest tuition. It operated as a distinct entity until 1915.
Henriette Díaz DeLille was a Louisiana Creole of color from New Orleans, Louisiana, who founded the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Family in that city. Composed of free women of color, the order provided nursing care and a home for orphans, later establishing schools as well. They taught enslaved children when such education was prohibited by law.
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.
Gris-gris, is a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or bring luck, and in some West African countries is used as a method of birth control. It consists of a small cloth bag, usually inscribed with verses from an African ancestors containing a ritual number of small objects, worn on the person.
Louisiana Voodoo, also known as New Orleans Voodoo describes a set of spiritual beliefs and practices developed from the traditions of the African diaspora in Louisiana. It is sometimes referred to as Mississippi Valley Voodoo when referring to its historic popularity and development in the greater Mississippi Valley. It is a cultural form of the Afro-American religions developed by the West and Central African populations of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Voodoo is one of many incarnations of African-based spiritual folkways, rooted in West African Dahomeyan Vodun.
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 whites born in the colony, rather than in France. It was also used for enslaved people born in the colony.
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 were 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 United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Louisiana was 4,670,724 on July 1, 2015, a 3.03% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
"Le Mulâtre" is a short story by the American-born free person of color Victor Séjour. It was written in French, Séjour's first language, and published in the Paris abolitionist journal Revue des Colonies in 1837. It is the earliest extant work of fiction by an African-American author, and was noted as such when an English translation appeared in the first edition of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature in 1997.
Cyrille Bissette or in English also Cyril Bissette (1795–1858) was a free person of color from Martinique who was a radical abolitionist. He served in the French National Assembly from 1848 to 1851.
Discrimination based on hair texture is a form of social injustice, found worldwide, that targets black people, specifically black people who have afro-textured hair that's not been chemically straightened. Afro-textured hair has frequently been seen as being unprofessional, unattractive, and unclean.
In the United States, discrimination based on hair texture is a form of social injustice that has been predominantly experienced by African Americans and predates the existence of the country. There is no existing federal law that prohibits this form of discrimination. In the 21st century, multiple states and local governments have passed laws that prohibit such discrimination, California being the first state to do so in 2019 with the Crown Act.