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The earliest African hair combs date from around 6,000 years ago, based on evidence from archaeological contexts in Egypt and Sudan. The forms of hair combs are varied. In addition to the traditional pick that has become synonymous with African hairstyles, combs with shorter teeth appeared in Egypt as early as the third millennium BCE and were still produced by cultural groups such as the Yao in Malawi and Mozambique in the late 19th century CE.

Rather than simply making strictly functional tools, artists experimented with the handles of their combs. They created hair combs in the form of a traditional pick and imbued them with references to the natural world. This tradition has transcended time and individual cultures, providing a rich source of ...

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