According to an extensive article on the history of dreadlocks from darcfoundation.org,
“The Hon. Neville ORiley Livingston (Bunny Wailer) in his reggae classic Rastaman said, “…That’s the strangest man I’ve seen, that’s because he’s a Rastaman; having the mark of a Nazarene…”
The connection between Biblical justification and the dread locks worn by the Great Ras Tafari Nation is quite profound. Oftentimes the single most accredited reason for wearing of dread locks is the Nazarene vow extracted from the Book of Numbers 6:5, KJV. Which states that “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow”.
The Old Testament also recounts the tale of Sampson and Delilah in which a man’s potency is directly linked to ‘the seven locks on his head’ and according to Roman accounts, the Celts were described to have ‘hair like snakes’ Germanic tribes, Greeks and the Vikings are all said to have worn dreadlocks too. In the West, the Nazarene is most widely known for developing Dreadlocks. In the East, Yogis, Gyanis, and Tapasvis of all sects are the most famous bearers of Dreadlocks.
The history of dreadlocks predates these biblical accounts by thousands of years however. Spiritualists of all faiths and backgrounds incorporate into their paths a disregard for physical appearances and vanity. And so, throughout the world, such seekers often cease to comb, cut, or otherwise dress their hair: This is how “dreadlocks” are born in Ancient Ithiopia. As a matter of fact there is absolutely no connection with the biblical account regarding dreadlocks and the Kush, Kemit, Massi, or Oromo of Ancient Ithiopia that is the basis for Ras Tafari locks.
Another misconception is that the dreadlocks that are associated most closely with the RasTafari Nation originated in India. Whereas the Semitic people of West Asia; Indo-European people of Europe and South Asia; the Turkic people of Anatolia and Central Asia; the ancient Spartan warriors of Greece, the Sufi malangs and fakirs of Pakistan; the Sufi Rafaees; and the Sadhus of India and Nepal all wore dreadlocks, And whereas the Hindu deity Shiva and his followers were described in the scriptures as wearing “Jataa”, meaning “twisted locks of hair”. None of these sects can be called original.
Several ascetic groups within various major religions have at times worn their hair in locks, including the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Nazirites of Judaism, Qalandari Sufi’s, the Sadhus of Hinduism, and the Dervishes of Islam, among others. The very earliest Christians also may have worn this hairstyle. Particularly noteworthy are descriptions of James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, who wore them to his ankles. Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.
In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a sect of Islam founded in 1887 by Shaykh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing locks and wearing multi-colored gowns. It’s important to note that warriors among the Fulani, Wolof and Serer in Mauritania, and Mandinka in Mali and Niger were also known to have dreadlocks when old and cornrows when young for centuries.
Maasai men found in the regions of northern Kenya claim that they have been wearing dreadlocks for as long as they have survived. According to their oral history, the Maasai originated from the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana (Northwest Kenya) and began migrating south around the 15th century, arriving in a long trunk of land stretching from what is now northern Kenya between the 17th and late 18th century. Even today, Maasai men can be found donning their dreadlocks, with a tint of red color from the soil.” – Darcfoundation.org