The African women’s head wrap comes in different designs and styles, thanks to Africa’s rich and diverse cultures. The head wrap, also commonly known as “headscarf” or “head tie,” is known by different names in different countries. Originally associated with sub-Saharan Africa, it not only reflects on culture, but it also portrays fashion in its entirety.

Some of the different ways in which head wraps are referred to include:

  • “Tukwi” — Botswana.
  • “Duku” — Ghana and Malawi.
  • “Musuro” – Mali.
  • “Musor Gele” — Nigeria and Senegal.
  • “Dhuku” – Zimbabwe.

Roles of The Head Wrap

The roles of the head wrap vary, depending on the culture and occasion.

  • It protects the hair from weather elements
  • It’s an emblem of beauty and elegance
  • Symbolizes social status
  • A show of creativity, taste, and sense of fashion
  • It offers divine protection from evil spirits, according to African cosmology
  • As a communication tool, if you tie it with the head to the right, it indicates you are married, and if the head is to the left, it indicates you are single.
  • Identifies a woman with a particular geographical region and expresses your connection with the African continent.
  • It shows religious affiliations and rites of passage.

Occasions for Wearing The Head Wrap

You can wear your headscarves literally anywhere, anytime. The difference sets in when it comes to the care that you put in wearing it, and the style that you opt for. Your scarves can serve you rightly at home, at the church, at the market, or when visiting friends and relatives.

They also play a unique role on special occasions such as weddings, birthday parties, business lunch, and anniversaries. This applies mostly to the Nigerian “gele.” However, the BaTonga women of Zimbabwe tend to wear “dhuku” on religious days and ceremonies that mark rites of passage.

The Modern Woman’s Head Wrap

When you are clad in your special African women’s dress, having matching accessories like a head wrap, custom shoes, and handbag of the same material will make you stand out more. It not only brings out the beauty in you, but also speaks of your unique sense of fashion.   

The head wrap has, by far, withstood the test of time, and gone beyond the barriers of tradition and practical applications. It is the in-thing, and you can find it in almost every fashion store, matched with a blazer, skirt, or dress. The modern designers are speedily embracing the trend, and so you can comfortably wear your head wrap and be sure to have heads turning your way.

Their colorful and vivid prints are a beauty to behold, going a long way to shape your personality. The strength of the African head wrap is that it cuts across the age barrier and can be used by anyone from children to teenagers, young women, and even older women.

The Nigerian “gele” is most commonly associated with special occasions, though it can be worn daily. Lupita Nyong’o, the famous Oscar Award winner, stood out by wearing this stylish head wrap her “Queen of Katwe.” film’s premier.

Styles for Wearing The Head Wrap

There are countless ways of wearing a head wrap; it all narrows down to your creativity. The most popular styles are the” Babaguida,” “Jamaican,” and “Melekeni” styles. Some popular styles also get outdated, like the style inspired by Queen Nefertiti, which was very popular in the previous century’s sixties.

In most cases, the head wrap takes the same material as that of the dress. Since tying it takes a lot of patience and dedication, you may opt for the ready-to-wear type manufactured in Switzerland such as the “Gran Switzerland”, “Hayes Gele” and “Super Jubilee”.

The large creased scarf design that is very popular with modern women can be traced back to the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Regardless of your nationality, wearing this style gives you the feeling of Nigerian royalty, and is a sign of elegance, pride, and beauty.

Tying the head wrap is an art in itself, and in order to achieve the best results, you should be ready to commit time and effort to it. A headscarf with a more elaborated motif places you in a higher social status, and it can also be used to identify you to a particular region.

Things to Remember

When wearing the African head wrap, remember that it’s an art, and it speaks volumes of your personality and sense of taste. Ensure you wrap it correctly, as a poorly wrapped headscarf can spoil your day a big deal.

Some of the rules you should follow when wearing an African head wrap include:

  • Don’t try a new style on a special occasion; it can really embarrass you
  • If you are not sure about yourself, ask for an expert’s help
  • Whenever possible, wear a headscarf that matches your African dress
  • Take your time; if you are in a hurry, go for ready-to-wear headscarves

General Steps for Wrapping a Headscarf

The steps you follow are determined by your level of expertise, experience, and your chosen design. The general steps, however, are:

  1. In front of a mirror, place the scarf centrally on the crown of your head
  2. Beneath your chin, cross the right end of the scarf above the left tip
  3. Take both left and right ends of the scarf to the back of your neck
  4. Gently tie them at the back using a double knot
  5. For the loose ends, smoothly tuck them in under the knot

Now that you know what the African head wrap is all about, it’s time to give it a try and explore your potential. You never know how much you can achieve unless you get down to it and put your creativity to test.

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