Braids (also referred to as plaits) are a complex hairstyle formed by interlacing three or more strands of hair. Braiding has been used to style and ornament human and animal hair for thousands of years in many different cultures around the world.
The simplest and most common version is a flat, solid, three-stranded structure. More complex patterns can be constructed from an arbitrary number of strands to create a wider range of structures (such as a fishtail braid, a five-stranded braid, rope braid, a French braid and a waterfall braid). The structure is usually long and narrow with each component strand functionally equivalent in zigzagging forward through the overlapping mass of the others. Structurally, hair braiding can be compared with the process of weaving, which usually involves two separate perpendicular groups of strands (warp and weft).