A Harnoor Juneja Photoseries Examines The Link Between Hair & Identity

HairHarnoor Juneja

I always sport a disheveled hairdo - the kind that seems like it has been untouched by a comb for an eternity and as my grandmother eloquently puts it, resembles a crow’s nest. But jokes apart, you’d not be able to recognize me otherwise. This got me thinking about how our hair and the way we dress it, is intrinsically connected with our identity and perception of the self. This chain of thought began when I first viewed Harnoor Juneja’s wonderful photo series - Hair.

More often than not, a person’s face is the signifier of their identity. In this series, the face is absent from all the photographs. Shot from behind, it solely puts focus on the diverse hairdos of the subjects. The distinguishing ways in which the subjects style their hair are rife with traditional motifs rooted in Indian culture. It gives us a window into their vernacular histories. For example, the photograph of the subject sporting a shikha (a tuft of hair kept at the back of the head) immediately brings to mind the history of the Brahmins, who were temple priests, and how this particular hairstyle distinguished them and till date, continues to do so from other Hindus. Hair has culturally,come to be seen as an extension of a person's identity.

The Cultural Relevance Of Hair Adornment For South Asian Women

We also see how attire often complements hairstyles. Together, it gives us a sense of which part of India the subject resides in. Also, the different hairstyles, when paried with flowers and garlands can highlight how the essence of our culture is deep-rooted in nature.

Harnoor Juneja’s series goes a long way towards documenting the cultural diversity of India through the visuals of hair and the various ways in which wear it.

Find out more about Harnoor Juneja here.

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