Preserving the culture and traditions of a nation is seen as incredibly important. After all, it is only possible to know where you are going if you know where you have been, and traditions and culture help to keep one eye on the days gone by. Traditions influence a variety of different areas of life, but for the women of Croatia, the way they wear their hair is a cultural statement in and of itself.
If you want to learn more about the traditional hairstyles of Croatian women, then read on for an in-depth guide…
Double braids (also known as Kikaš)
The double-braided hairstyle is incredibly popular across the world, but has a particular quirk when used in Croatia. The two braids are formed as they would be anywhere in the world: by parting the hair into even sections, and then weaving a standard three-strand braid that falls down the sides of the neck of the wearer.
The special Croatian twist is added at the end of the braid. Decorative pieces, such as ribbons, bands, embroidered fabric, or other garlands, are then fixed to the base of each braid. Coins are often woven into the garland that is attached to the base of each braid; a tradition that has its roots in Croatia’s history with the Roman Empire. The overall finished look is truly beautiful; the decorative pieces blend with the hair, adding the illusion of extra length and decoration to what is otherwise a simple look.
Although this style is primarily used for special occasions and cultural events, it’s nevertheless a great choice if you want to give a standard two-braid look an extra dimension.
Braids are a common feature in Croatian hairstyles, and steadily become more and more intricate. Wrapped braids are a fantastic option if you’re looking for a style that is interesting, but able to remain secure throughout the day.
The most basic wrapped braids are created from a starting point of a standard double braid. The braids are then wrapped and pinned, so that they form a bun on the back of side of the hair. The longer the braids are, the more pronounced the bun from the wrapped braids is.
This style is common throughout Croatia, and has a tendency to look more complex than it actually is. If you have long hair and plenty of bobby pins on hand, then you should be able to recreate this charming look in your own home.
Roped braids are a Croatia twist on the commonly-known “milkmaid” braid. The style is known for being comfortable to wear, and is an excellent choice to keep long hair tidy throughout the day.
Variations of this style are popular throughout Croatia and tend to vary depending on the age of the wearer. In Slavonia, Baranja, and Srijem, younger girls will wear two braids in the rope style. After the age of 15, a single braid is used to create the same effect.
Where does the “roped” element come from? Well, it’s all in the finishing touch. Braids — both single and double braids, depending on the age of the wearer — are plaited and secured as they would be conventionally. The braids are then lifted from the neck and shoulders with the help of a rope, which is generally coloured to provide a beautiful contrast with the colour of the wearer’s hair. The rope then holds the braids in place, making it both a useful and a stylish element of the finished look.
Basket braids are popular throughout the world, but have a particular significance to the women of Vinkovci and Vukovar. Basket braids are infamous for their complexity; creating the finished look can take hours, and one mistake is enough to derail the entire style.
What makes basket braids so complex is the number of strands they incorporate; six to eight strands are woven together in a repetitive fashion, neatly securing the hair to the head and creating the famous “basket” look. While there’s no doubt that basket braids look truly fantastic, they are incredibly difficult to do on your own hair, so you might want to ask a friend or family member to help you out with this one!
For a truly Croatian finish to a basket braid, use decorative pieces such as clips and jewels to showcase the stunning effect created in the hair.
The central region of Croatia has a long tradition of using a braiding technique called “Frke”. This style involves the use of a guiding piece of rope, which the hair is then twisted and wound around. The hair forms a spiral and sits on the front of the head, almost looking like a headdress of sorts.
The look is incredibly intricate, but undeniably beautiful. The hair is kept tidy and out of the way, making this a hairstyle that both looks good and has a practical element too. When the hair has been wrapped around the rope, the finished look is often decorated with ornaments and ribbons that are predominantly red in colour.
In Istria, a coastal region, there is a variation on the braids styles that are popular in other regions. Hair is braided into a standard double-braid but then wound and piled forwards on the head, rather than falling backwards as is more standard. This creates a 3D effect, which is then enhanced by different colours being wound around the braids in an alternating pattern.
This look is particularly notable for the “circular” finish, with the combined colours and braids encircling the head and leaving a space between. As a result, the overall finished effect is incredibly dynamic and interesting, with the addition of coloured wrapped material creating the perfect finishing touch.
So when it comes to Croatian hairstyles, complexity is one of the most obvious components. The addition of ornaments, garlands, flowers, and even lace over the braided style help to provide finishing touches to the overall effect, creating styles that are truly stunning and unique.