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Vertical Chignon

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It requires from twenty-five to thirty years for an Ishogo woman to be able to build upon her head one of their grotesque head-dresses. The accompanying picture will show you how they look. But you will ask how they can arrange hair in such a manner. I will tell you : A frame is made, and the hair is worked upon it ; but if there is no frame, then they usd grass-cloth, or any other stuffing, and give the shape they wish to the head-dress. A well-known hair-dresser, who, by the way, is always a female, is a great person in an Ishogo village, and is kept pretty busy from morning till after-noon. It takes much time to work up the long wool on these negroes' heads, but, when one of these heads of hair, or chignons, is made, it lasts for a long time—sometimes for two or three months—without requiring repair. I need not tell you that after a few weeks the head gets filled with specimens of natural history.

A great quantity of palm oil is used in dressing the hair, and, as the natives never wash their heads, the odor is not pleasant. When a woman comes out with a newly-made chignon, the little Ishogo girls exclaim, "When shall I be old enough to wear one of these? How beau-tiful they are!"

Every morning, instead of taking a bath, the Ishogos rub themselves with oil, mixed with a red dye made from the wood of a forest tree.

The Country of the Dwarfs
By Paul Belloni Du Chaillu
Published in 1872
Available from books.google.com