New-Hampshire-born Emily Pillsbury went to Georgia to teach at Savannah's female Orphan Asylum in 1840. In her twenties at the time she noticed fashion. As soon as she disembarked in Savannah she was struck by the colorful head wraps worn by the Black women of the city.
At each of the outdoor market stalls she saw:
"A servant woman to sell her masters property, who is careful to deck out his saleswoman in the most gaudy colors to make her as conspicuous as possible, that she may be successful in trade....I once heard a gentleman say, whose saleswoman had not been very successful, He must get her a new handkerchief for her head, and see if she would not sell more."
"Bonnets are not worn by the colored people at the South, not even to church. The fashion of their head dress is a sort of turban, made by folding a cotton handkerchief in that peculiar kind of way known only to themselves."
"The most gaudy that can be found. As I never saw any of the kind before or since, I have concluded they were manufactured for this express purpose by those who well understand what was most congenial to their tastes. During my stay in Georgia, I saw...many of those red and yellow articles worn by the colored people."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art sums it up in a caption for one of Brunias's paintings:
"A distinctive Creole style developed in the region as European fashions were integrated with African modes such as the head wrap, worn by nearly all women regardless of race or social status. Weekly markets throughout the Caribbean were dynamic sites of economic and social exchange where colorful textiles could be acquired and enslaved persons could participate as both buyers and sellers in global trade networks."