The most identifiable characteristic of Rastafarians are the matted hair or locks and beard which adorn the head. This practice was supposed to have first began when pictures of CaHa and Masai tribesmen from last Africa with matted hair appeared in Jamaica sometime after 193O, and several Rastafarian followers adopted it.
It must be noted however, that the practice was first noticed thousands of years ago on the mummies of ancient Africans, some of which are available for viewing in Egypt, Africa.
The matted hair became the mark of identity of members of the movement and to some the only criteria. The practice was then confirmed by the Biblical verses:
All the days of the vow of his separation there shall be no razor come upon his head until the days be fulfilled in which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy and shall the locks of the hair of his head grow.
Ye shall not round the corner of your
heads, neither shall thou mar the corners of thy beard.
And he put forth the form of a hand and took me by a lock of mine head.
Song of Solomon 5:11
His head is as the most fine gold. His locks are bushy and black as a raven.
Further justifying the practice are pictures of the Emperor at age six which shows him with hair in matted fashion. The hair when matted is called by several names such as 'Janks,"Nats,' 'Locks, 'Dread,' 'Crowning Glory,' 'Bongo,' etc. Whi1e becoming the identity mark of the movement worldwide it has also served the purpose of discrediting, when used by criminal and dishonest elements. Many Rastas, because of domestic or economic reasons do not wear their hair in 'locks' but are identified otherwise, chiefly by the use of the movement's colors. In Trinidad children who were born with Rasta type hair were treated as very special and were known by the African term of 'Dada Flair.'