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Origins of the Afro Comb:
6,000 years of culture, politics and identity

The 6,000-year history of the Afro Comb, its extraordinary impact on cultures worldwide, and community stories relating to hair today are being explored in this new exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Cambridge.

Material culture on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum includes hundreds of remarkable combs - from pre-dynastic Egypt to modern-day black fist combs referencing the Black Power Movement - as well as associated images and sculpture showing the wide variety of hair styles found in Africa and around the world. A digital interaction gallery features projections of personal stories about combs and African type hair and visitors are encouraged to share their own stories and photographs, which will become part of a new archive of material for future generations.

At the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology experience three contemporary art installations that bring to life the ‘Cottage Salon’ in the home, The Barber Shop and The Hairdressing Salon; explaining black hair culture, styling and politics as we know it today.

Origins of the Afro Combs website


Share your photos with us

We would love to see your photographs of the objects in this exhibition, as well as your own combs and hairstyles. To share with us on Instagram, please tag your photos @ afro_combs. And don’t forget to follow us so you can see updates about the exhibition!

How to follow us on Instragram
Open Instagram > click on the compass rose icon (left of camera) > type afro_combs into the search bar > open the account > click Follow.

Please note: When taking photographs within the Museum we ask that cameras and camera phones are hand-held, and that you do not use flash photography. This is because many of the objects have pigment on the surface, even when it is invisible to the naked eye, and flash photography damages them.

Tue 2 July 2013 to Sun 3 November 2013
Fitzwilliam Museum: Gallery 13 (Mellon) & 8 (Octagon) + The Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (MAA). Please note that the installation at the MAA closes on 28 September.
Free