In Yorubaland, in those days, women did not just plait their way to make them beautiful only. But some hairstyles were a means of identifying specific kinds of people in the society.
In the past , various symbolic hairstyles were designated for special cases and for special groups of people in the society. For example, there was a symbolic hairstyle, designated for spinsters, unmarried women, elderly women or women who passed child – bearing age and childless women among others.
A woman with no child coated her head thickly with camwood-paste and stuck cowries into it, aimed at bringing out the message of her case nearer home to the public.
Cowries were regarded as a symbol of fertility, and so when a childless woman wore this type of hairstyle in the olden days, the message was vividly understood by individual members of her community. In such a situation, all good-spirited elderly women and men would always give her words of encouragement and blessings, each time she came in close contact with them.
Again, women that were about to have a child also had their own kind of hairstyle, so also those who had passed the child-bearing age or who committed abomination in the community. In the past too, there was a special hairstyle for the grief-stricken or mourning women or widows.