In my latest release, UNEXPECPTED PLEASURE, I mention Aunt Violet’s gele because the color and size tell you a lot about the woman. However, in case you aren’t familiar with this attire, I thought I’d give you a little more background.

First what is a gele?

The Gele (pronounced gay lay or geh leh) is a large rectangular cloth tied on a woman’s head in many different styles.

Here are facts you might find interesting:

1)  Unlike a hat or simple headwrap, a gele usually requires the assistance of someone else to make sure the material is properly wrapped around the wearer’s head. Because wearing a gele can be difficult, it’s become a common practice to just remove it intact and wear it again when needed.


2) Gele tying is now offered as a service. The tying of a gele is such an art form that many makeup artists in Nigerian communities now offer it as a service. You can see one example here:


3) The gele can be flamboyant or demure depending on a) the occasion, b) who’s tying and c) who’s wearing it.


4) The gele is a sign of social status and importance.


5) Popular fabric used for the gele come from Switzerland or Austria but aso oke is also very popular. Aso oke (English translation is ‘top cloth’) is a vibrant fabric, usually woven by men, made up of hand-loomed cotton.


6) If worn too tightly, a gele can cause a headache.


7) Although traditionally part of the Yoruba attire, other African tribes have adopted it as well.