What is an Headwrap?
Traditionally, African headwraps are patterned pieces of cloth that are tied in intricate fashions around the head. They can be as small as a square bandana or as long as a yard. However, typical wraps are about 60 inches, or the length of your average scarf. In fact, a lot of women wear patterned pashmina scarves as headwraps, getting two uses out of one accessory!
African headwraps have different names in other languages, including dhuku (Shona), duku (Chichewa), gele (Yoruba), iduku (isiZulu).
Here are a few reasons women wear headwraps:
To protect the hair at night. Many women use silk or satin head scarves instead of a bonnet at night, keeping their hairstyles in place and safe from drying fabrics.
To tame the hair during the day.
If you don’t feel like doing your hair in the morning (or the night before!), large headwraps are a great way to keep your coils in check.
As part of a ceremony. Many African immigrants, inspired by their native culture, wear a tribal head scarf for weddings or other ceremonial events.
For fashion. Today, many African American women wear headwraps for style and simplicity. Pre-tied African headwraps are a convenient way to look nice and cover your hair, while the untied versions can be shaped in many unique and attention-grabbing ways.
To celebrate their African heritage. As more women come to love their natural hair, many have started incorporating fashion headwraps into their daily look as a point of pride. African head coverings (and garments like caftans) are also worn to celebrate Kwanzaa.
6 Ways to Style You Headwrap Below