History of Gele, the Nigerian Female Headwrap Photos

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The Gele is a traditional Nigerian Headwrap. It is worn during special occasions as an accessory to the traditional ‘iro’ (a wrap-around skirt) and ‘buba’ (a loose fitting blouse).

Gele is usually made out of heavy or stiff fabric that can be wrapped and moulded into a specific shape. Fabrics from Switzerland and Austria are very popular, but the most popular and indigenous to the Yoruba is the ‘aso oke’.

Aso Oke is originally a ceremonial fabric woven locally in Nigeria and is made up commonly of strands of cotton and/or silk. Aso Oke is also used to make Iro and Buba, but generally for very special occasions such as the brides wedding dress.

Growing up in Nigeria, the tying of the gele was always a sign of an upcoming special occasion. My mother, who admits to being inept at this admirable art, always enlisted the help of a close friend or neighbour before a party.

After many failed attempts by my mother, these women would swoop in and have the Gele tied in 5 mins flat. To a skinny, six year old girl, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing your mother looking like a queen. The gele meant more to me than a tiara or an actual crown. It was the ultimate expression of femininity.

Maybe it was the glimmering metallics of the aso oke, or the bright shades of the Gele, that made women look so glamorous, but it was empowering, and made me proud to be female in a society that celebrated the dominance and superiority of men. Credit: Worldbride


More pics below:

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