So there it is, how to tie a gele. The material is either aso-oke – a Yoruba hand woven cloth, silk or printed cotton, but heavily starched. How starched is subject to fashion, evidently they don't make them so stiff these days, but I found that on a Nigerian website so not sure how straight or cool that comment is. Many of the commericial sites show them in rayon and quite floppy.
They are outstandingly beautiful when you see them on new Canadians parading down the horrible strip that is 17th Avenue SE in Calgary. The women are like tall flowers, and I'm not being patronising here, they really are stunning. The dresses and matching or contrasting geles are stately, calm, solid and absolutely individual. I'm sure there are nuances in how one pulls out the top of the wrapped material, invisible to many of us, but again, subtle indications of class, wealth and self-worth.
One does wonder how long it takes for such subtleties to disappear when there are so few people to take account of them. Or do they become frozen, unable to develop with fashion trends in the original culture. I remember hearing of people who had emigrated to Canada and, on going back to England, found that the England they had known was completely gone, and they appeared as relics from a bygone era. It does happen.