Head ties are a common garment that is worn in a number of different countries in Africa. However, due to the diversity on the continent and the number of different ethnic groups, the way that head ties are produced and worn varies between countries, and can sometimes vary between regions in one country. As a result, we need to be more specific when talking about head ties, and so in this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at Gele, a type of head tie worn primarily by women in Nigeria, in West Africa.


What are Gele and when are they worn?


Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 10.19.57Gele is essentially a type of head tie worn by women in the Western Africa country of Nigeria. In contrast to the head ties worn in some other African countries, like Ghana, Gele is usually rather large and ornate, and as a result, are associated with ceremonial wear rather than day to day usage. However, some women also wear smaller, less formal Gele for everyday activities.

Whether it is being worn for ceremonial purposes or as an everyday garment also affects the style of the garment, as ceremonial Gele will usually cover both the ears and hair of the wearer, whereas everyday Gele will only cover the hair. Gele comes in a range of different colours and styles, with each having its own meaning or association. Some will even denote that the wearer is of a certain social status, and so Gele forms an important part of social relations in Nigeria. At Empire Textiles, we have Gele in a wide range of colours, patterns, and styles, so you’re sure to find something to match whatever outfit you’re planning to wear it with!


How are they worn?


Gele comes as a flat piece of fabric, that is then wrapped around the hair and head of the wearer and tied into place. If worn for ceremonial purposes, they are usually extremely large and rise high above the head of the wearer. However, the beauty of Gele is that they can be worn any way you please, making them a very versatile garment. If you’d like to learn how Gele is tied, there are a multitude of instructional video online!


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