Woman's African-style Headwrap

This headwrap dating between 1972 and 1984 was worn by Fath Davis Ruffins, an African American woman in Washington, DC. Ruffins bought the fabric for this headwrap and matching dress, which is also in the Smithsonian collections, at an African shop on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC. It was made in 1972 but was worn as part of a summer "dress-up" outfit through 1984. Elaborately tied headwraps were worn by young African American women during this period to acknowledge their West African ancestral roots.
The flat cotton rectangular panel is a large floral "Java Print" in three shades of green with yellow accents on a cream background with a dark green with yellow floral design border. The forty-six inch long rectangle is narrower on one short side (twenty inches) than the other (inches) with stitched edges. "Guaranteed Dutch Java Print" is stamped on the selvage.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
used by
Ruffins, Fath Davis
Ruffins, Fath Davis
Physical Description
cotton (overall material)
overall: 46 in; 116.84 cm
made in
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
used in
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
African American
Clothing & Accessories
Cultures & Communities
National Treasures exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Costume
National Treasures exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Fath Davis Ruffins
Related Publication
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Publication title
Treasures of American History online exhibition
Publication author
National Museum of American History
Publication URL

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