Tignon Headdress in New Orleans
- Barbara Trevigne
During the Spanish colonial era in New Orleans, various edicts addressed matters of extravagant dress regarding women of unmixed African ancestry and those of combined African and European ancestry (nègre and cuarterón, or quadroon) women. Women of color were instructed to cover their heads by wearing a headdress marked by less vibrant color and ornamentation, hence relegating their status to a level comparable to that of enslaved individuals and servants. Yet the tignon headdress, intended by Spanish edict as a means of racially profiling and obscuring the implied “charms” of local women of color in comparison to white women in the area, ironically became strategically employed as a powerful marker of agency, self-identification, subtle yet powerful protest for women of African descent.