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|right|thumb|Abdul Rahman Al-Saud of House of Saud with Cornrow styled hair]]
Cornrows, also known as crows or braids, are a traditional African style of hair grooming where the hair is braided very close to the scalp, using an underhand, upward motion to produce a continuous, raised row. Cornrows are often formed, as the name implies, in simple, straight lines, but they can also be formed in complicated geometric or curvilinear designs.
Often favored for their easy maintenance, crows can be left in for weeks at a time if maintained through careful washing of the hair and regular oiling of the scalp.
Cornrowed hairstyles are often adorned with beads or cowry shells, in the African and Caribbean tradition. Depending on the region of the world, cornrows are typically worn by either men, women or both. Cornrows are known as canerows in parts of the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, and crows in the trending underground and mainstream hip-hop community.
A traditional way of styling hair across the African continent, depictions of women with cornrows have been found in Stone Age paintings in the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara that have been dated as far back as 3000 B.C. This tradition of female styling in cornrows has remained popular throughout the continent, particularly in Western  and Eastern Africa. Historically, male styling with cornrows can be traced as far back as the early nineteenth century to Ethiopia, where warriors and kings such as Tewodros II and Yohannes IV were depicted wearing cornrows.
In the African diaspora, cornrows survived for centuries in the United States and other parts of the New World as a traditional style of hair preparation. In the United States the cornrow style regained popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s as part of the Black Nationalist Movement, which encouraged African Americans to embrace hairstyles that highlighted their natural hair texture and reject straightening with lye-based relaxers. In the wake of the Black pride movement, many shops and salons sprang up across the United States delivering services exclusively, or as part of a range of options, to African Americans who preferred natural unstraightened hairstyles such as cornrows.
Outside the African tradition, cornrows have also been seen in Greek and Roman art and may have had a similar presence in Celtic culture. Cornrow hairstyles are now often offered to tourists in resort areas of the Caribbean.
Cornrows acquired some popularity among White Americans and Europeans after blonde actress Bo Derek wore beaded cornrows in the popular 1979 Blake Edwards comedy 10. They became widely popular once again with the spread of hip hop culture in the 1990s.
Over the years, cornrows, along with dreadlocks, have been the subject of several disputes in the American workplace. Some employers have deemed them unsuitable for the office and have banned them – sometimes even terminating employees who have worn them. African American employees and civil rights groups have countered that such attitudes evidence racial and cultural bias. Some such disputes have resulted in litigation.
In 2011, the High Court of the United Kingdom, in a decision reported as a test case, ruled against a school’s decision to refuse entry to a student with cornrows. The school claimed this was part of its policy mandating ‘short back and sides’ haircuts, and disallowing styles that might be worn as indicators of gang membership. However, the court ruled that the student was expressing a family tradition and that such policies, while possibly justifiable in certain cases (e.g. skinhead gangs), had to accommodate reasonable ethnic and cultural practises.
See also 
- "History of Cornrow Braiding". Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- Willie F. Page, ed. (2001). Encyclopedia of African history and culture: Ancient Africa (prehistory to 500 CE), Volume 1. Facts on File. p. 36. ISBN 978-0816044726.
- Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Greenwood Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0313331459.
- Alison Dundes Renteln. The Cultural Defense. p. 143. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "School braids ban 'not justified'". The Independent. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
- "Braiding 'can lead to hair loss'". BBC News. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2010-04-30.