“Gele” is the Yoruba word for traditional head tie. All other cultures also wear their own form of head gear, but the word “Gele” has become synonymous with this traditional head accessory, that completes the outfit.
It is one of the biggest trends of 2016.
Gele tying is an art. One must learn the technique to succeed in showcasing a well tied gele. This is a step by step guide on tying the perfect gele, ahead of December 2016 events.
1 Hold your hair up in one, or use a cover up to secure it in place.
There are special gele types for special occasions. Sagoe is one of such and is very popular amongst brides and for weddings. The irony is that your hair must be fixed for the gele to be beautiful. Well packed hair especially if long, is the smooth foundation for the perfect gele.
You can use a piece of your old pantyhose or leggings as for the head cover. Just cut off the lower part of it and put it on your head. You may use hair slides to fasten it there. This way, you create a better foundation for your gele. It won’t slide off your head. If the gele is transparent, the head cover would create more even color underneath it. And, it keeps your curly hair down and tight on the head.
2 fold the Gele in two parts; one must be longer than the other
The Yoruba traditional way of doing this is to fold the gele at one edge. It all depends on the girth of the scarf. If it is very wide, you can fold it almost by half. Or you can just bend one edge (10+ centimeters). You then fold the gele all the way to the other end of it. Make a nice crisp bend there and sort of press it together with your fingers. This way, it would be easier for you to tie the headband.
Now you need to take it so, that the bend is facing downwards, while the unbent edge would face up. One of the ends should be shorter than the other at this point. It should be able to wrap around your head twice.
3 Adjust it to your head
Now, place the bent edge over your forehead. The shorter end should go all the way down to your nape (plus 10+15 cm). Press it closely against your head and put both ends down to your nape. Make sure gele covers your forehead and both ends cover up at least half of both your ears.
4 Cross the both end
At this point your gele has to stay tight on your head. Use the longer end to fasten the shorter one, so you would free up the other hand. You sort of place the short end under the long end and make its tail stick out on the other side. Then you pull the longer end and fasten the shorter one. This way you can have one hand free to help you do the folds.
5 Wrap it once and then wrap again
The first wrap goes all around your head. Watch the folds. This is when they need to be formed and shaped. Make sure that crisp bend is pressed nicely to your head. Make a small indent from the first layer of gele to shape more folds. Go all the way down to your nape.
Then for the second wrap, making more folds. These folds are the essential part of gele’s beauty. This time you may make small pleats with your hands on the edge of the crease. You fold it up in small movements and press it down to your head. Go all the way down to the nape again and wrap it up.
6 Tie it
Finally, you tie the two ends (they should be the same length by this time). You make a truelove knot, so it would not get untied and fall off you. The knot should be located on your nape or little bit on the side near one of your ears.
7 Adjust gele to fit you hair
It’s time to adjust the gele at the front, the upper part. You have that unfolded end sticking up. You need to round it up a bit and make few nice folds over your head. That’s it.
This is a basic and simple gele tying method. You can do it yourself with no help from someone else. It just takes a little practice. However, there are other more tricky ones. For instance, you may leave two long ends of the shawl and make one bend around the head with each of them. Or, you may create a zig zag pattern on your head.
In this case you would need two or even three scarfs of different colors. It looks really nice, if you can make an even and smooth zig zag. Another way to tie your gele is to make pleats. In this case you do not make the fold.
Instead you make pleats with your hands on one edge of gele and put the short end at your temple. You start rolling gele around your head and keep on making the pleats on its edge. You go round and round until you run out of the scarf. Then you tie a knot with two ends and adjust the other edge. This way you get many nice folds on your head.