BY Deborah Dzifa Makafui, 11:27am September 21, 2022,

Origins of the Beautiful ‘Gele’ Headgear of Nigerian Women

Photo Credit: Tobbytex007

The diversity of African cultures and peoples is often reflected in the range of hairstyles and headgear used by its citizens. Hairstyles and headgear have been utilized by various civilizations to indicate tribal affiliation, gender, religion, occupation and social rank. As a fashion item, diverse cultures have produced wigs, hats, hair accessories, razors, and combs. The numerous statues and masks from ancient Africa that display intricate hair adornments provide evidence of the significance of headgear to African culture.

Women in Nigeria traditionally wear a gele on top of their heads. A huge headscarf called ‘gele’ is used on different occasions as a decorative head covering or as a fashion accessory. Even though they can be worn every day, Nigerian women prefer to dress up for special occasions like weddings and church services. They are composed of sturdy materials and can cover a woman’s hair and even her ears during wedding ceremonies, leaving the face and earrings uncovered.

It is a quotidian ornamental feature of Women in West Africa, especially among Ghanaians and the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Aside from ceremonies, it has also become a staple of women’s daily attire because it comes in different variations, some of which are only appropriate for ceremonial settings.

Historically, a can serve the utility of identifying a woman’s marital status; if worn to the right, she is married, while if worn to the left shows that she is single. Due to the fact that larger Geles are more expensive, they are typically prestige symbols.

Aso-oke gele is now in style; it is often not too expensive. However, one can add more flair to it by increasing the number of steps of its fold. The sequined or beaded variants are more expensive.

There are numerous creative ways to tie a Gele, most of which require a level of skills which can only be learned by constant practice. There are plenty of skilled hands on offer to help wear a Gele, but even that is being replaced by the influx of already molded styles.

A gele is seen and worn in steps, and for descriptive purposes, it sort of looks like a fan with two arms sitting atop the wearer’s head. Its form shows ingenuity because there are so many lovely styles that can be created with the Gele. Hence, a lady who is dressed up in Gele is seen as being proud of exhibiting her culture publicly.

In Igbo culture, the Gele is typically worn over a blouse and ‘George Wrapper’. As a result, the Gele is currently a fashion statement. In actuality, not wearing a Gele when wearing the traditional Yoruba gele In fact, it will be regarded as a fashion faux pas to wear the traditional Yoruba Boba and iro without a Gele.

These are geles that are produced especially for celebrations of significant events like chieftaincy title ceremonies, milestone birthdays, traditional marriages, and other noteworthy occasions. Aso-Oke, a woven cloth spun by hand or machine specifically for each customer, is typically used to create custom-made Geles.

Today, the Gele is worn on a variety of garments, including cocktail dresses, skirt suits, and pantsuits. As Gele’s uses are still developing, the options are virtually limitless.

Last Edited by:Sedem Ofori Updated: September 21, 2022


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates