What is Tignon Law?

Tignon Law

In 1786, it became illegal for women of African descent to show their hair in public. Yes, this was a real law.

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Tignon Law


A decree demanding that women of African descent, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from "excessive attention to dress".


Historian Virginia M. Gould notes that Tignon 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.
⚡️Women of African descent would often adorn their hair with colorful jewelry, beads and other accents, demonstrating an exotic appearance that attracted the attention of white male suitors.

✨Many of them had become openly kept mistresses of white, French, and Spanish Creole men.

⚡️This perceived threat to white women's relationships with French and Spanish Creole men created contention.


Tignon Law was enforced with the intention to shame women of color, suppress creative expression and diminish the threat to the social status of white women during that time. 
Despite laws that tried to suppress the flyness of African descendants, they protested in colorful ways.

Tignon Law

According to historian Carolyn Long, "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 women of color."
Tignon Law


Creative expression is a gift and an honor. How will you use yours?


  • Bonnie Dickinson on

    Great lesson for us to absorb and share with our younger Black Queens! 💃

  • Maryellen on

    Delighted to find this site. Could you tell me if there is a connection between the dress of the Herero women of Namibia and the Creole women of Surinam? I believe missionaries introduced the dress code to the Herero women.

  • T on

    Great history. This was primarily done in New Orleans.

  • Gloria on

    We have akways been a threat to the white women self esteem. They always have to try to cheat.

  • Erica Muse on

    Thanks for the Black History information. I tell this same information to the women around my town. Especially when they see me wearing my headwraps, which I have come to embrace and feel like I’m some-what tapping into what our ancestors, mainly the black women, had to go through. Not just because they were women or let alone human beings, but mainly because they were….BLACKandSTRONG. I’m honored and proud to be a strong black woman, a black queen, and a chosen vessel of God! To God Be The Glory!!

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