Viking Braids: Fusion of Tradition and Modern Elegance

Viking braids have a storied history. These intricate braided hairstyles were prominent among Norse tribes during the Viking Age from the 8th to 11th centuries. However, similar plaited styles existed long before the Viking raids across Europe.

Braids have been worn by many cultures over thousands of years. Evidence of braiding dates back to depictions in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art. Some historians believe Celtic tribes and African civilizations were braiding hair as far back as 3500 BCE.

So while Vikings did not invent braided hairstyles, they did help popularize many distinct types of plaits during their era. Let’s explore the origins, evolution, and styling techniques of these iconic warrior braids.

Types of Viking Braids

Both male and female Vikings were known to wear intricate braided hairstyles. Several main styles were common:

  • Simple braids – Single or double braids down the back.
  • Warrior braids – Two braids near the temples that join in the back.
  • Beard braids – Intricate plaits woven into facial hair.
  • Temple braids – Plaits beginning near the temples.

Viking men often wore beard braids, while women sported varied braided looks depending on status, age, and region. Braiding hair was a meaningful ritual that signified milestones.

Here is an overview of popular Viking braids:

Braid TypeDescription
Simple braidsSingle or double braids, sometimes beaded
Warrior braidsTwo braids join at nape of neck
Beard braidsIntricate beard weaves, sometimes with beads
Temple braidsBraids beginning at temple, woven back

Purpose and Significance

For Vikings, braiding hair held much cultural meaning and purpose. Some main reasons Vikings braided their hair:

  • Show status, wealth
  • Intimidate enemies
  • Make statements about milestones like marriages and battles
  • Honor religious rituals and deities

Viking warriors believed braids invoked the gods’ protection in battle. Certain rituals involved specific hairstyles and amulets woven into plaits. Braids also displayed a warrior’s prowess and experience – the more complex styles signified seniority.

Wealthy Vikings adorned their braids with silver, gold, and gemstones. Elaborate braided looks reinforced societal standing and nobility.

Both men and women fastened talismans and woven metals into braids for protection and to signify life events like marriages. Even beard braids for Viking men carried meaning and displayed status.

Evolution From Ancient Origins

Long before Vikings sailed the seas, ancient tribes displayed a fondness for braided locks. The history of braiding hair spans thousands of years across the world.

Evidence of the earliest braiding appears in carvings and artwork from some of humanity’s first civilizations:

Time PeriodEarly Braiding Evidence
~3500 BCEDepicted in ancient African and Egyptian art
~3000 BCEBraided Greek hairstyles emerge
500 BCEEtruscan and Roman braided styles
~500 CECeltic plaited locks gain favor

Viking raiders then expanded the popularity of braids to medieval Europe in the 8th century CE during their conquests. Their iconic styles blended ancient Celtic plaits with Norse customs.

Christianity’s spread gradually erased many pagan braiding rituals in Europe by the 12th century. But the legacy of Viking braids continued inspiring modern looks.

Let’s explore the evolution of trendy Viking braids to today.

Viking Braids: Then and Now

While ancient braiding traditions evolved based on shifting cultures, geographic regions, and faiths, elements of historical Viking styles live on in contemporary looks.

In recent decades, Viking braids have surged back into mainstream popularity. From runway models to warriors gracing TV and movie screens, the iconic marriage of form and function in these braids continues captivating audiences.

Celebrities like Travis Fimmel as Ragnar in the Vikings TV series have propelled Viking braids into men’s fashion too. Hipster subculture has fueled expanded interest as well.

However, this resurgence has also spurred valid cultural appropriation concerns for some. Like all historically significant styles, donning modern Viking braids should be done respectfully and avoiding insensitive clichés.

Below is a comparison of common Viking braids from history translated to today:

Viking braiding carries on both the intricate art of plaiting hair and its storied cultural significance.

EraBraid TypeThenNow
Viking AgeWarrior braidsPlaits tied at nape for battleAll styles adapted for everyday wear
800-1100 CEBeard braidsIntricate beard plaits
Temple braidsWeaves symbolizing milestones
Simple braidsSingle braids with metal or charms

How to Do Viking Braids?

Want to try Viking braids on your own hair? The good news is many historical styles easily translate to modern techniques.

Here is an overview of how to do popular Vikings braids:

  • Prep hair – Start with dry, tangle-free locks
  • Divide hair evenly into sections
  • Begin basic 3-strand braiding by crisscrossing side strands
  • Add beads or ties (optional)
  • Continue braiding down full length
  • Secure ends tightly with bands

Make sure to securely fasten braids, especially warrior braids, at the nape of the neck. Pulling a few small face-framing pieces loose can create a stylish finish as well.

For first-timers seeking an easy intro style, simple braided pigtails are the way to go. This breaks styles down into smaller sections that are manageable to learn technique.

Key Takeaways

  • Vikings valued braids for power, wealth displays, battle protection, and marking milestones
  • Intricate plaited hairstyles spanned the Mediterranean for centuries before Vikings expanded popularity
  • Beard braids, warrior braids, and temple braids were common Viking styles still emulated today
  • With practice, many historical braids can be adapted to modern lifestyles and everyday wear

So revive the legacy of intricate tresses worn for ceremony, intimidation, and function. Channel your inner shield maiden or warrior and unleash those braids!