How to tie a head tie?

My Magazine 2022/01
9 min
A head tie in The Gambia is called ˝mousoor˝ in Wolof and ˝tikoo˝ in Mandinka. It is the symbol of an African woman. There are many reasons attached to women's wearing of a head tie; traditional, social, or religious beliefs.

In the olden days, different head ties distinguished a woman's social or marital status. It could also tell a woman's religion. Today, ladies wear a head tie for various purposes, including religious beliefs, fashion choices, tradition, etc.

Religions like Islam encourages a woman to cover up their head. A woman's hair is considered a beauty that should only be preserved for their legal spouse. Women also cover their hair when they perform Islamic prayers. In Christianity, nuns would also wear a veil to cover their hair.

In traditional Gambian society, it is believed a head tie can protect a woman from evil spirits and also help when having headaches or migraines.

Many wear a head tie when attending social occasions such as marriage ceremonies, naming ceremonies, funerals and other important occasions. A lot of women also wear it when going to work. Most older women always tie their hair because it preserves their respect and social status.

There are different fabrics used for tying the hair, and there are a lot of styles of tying a head tie according to what you are wearing it with and the occasion you are attending.


There are different types of head ties being used in The Gambia. Most common ones are:

Ankara head tie is mostly done by women who are married and even some girls. They are done when going for the naming ceremony or marriage ceremony.

Turban is mainly used by young girls and even some married women too.

They are simple to tie, most used daily and appropriate for every occasion since there are many types of tying a turban in The Gambia. The most common occurrences of wearing a turban are when going to birthday parties, going to work etc.

A high puff head warp is mainly worn by ladies, married and single, with long hair. It is a tie when going to work, visiting friends, and even sitting at home etc.

Hijab styles. This type of head tie is mostly worn by women wearing hijab and girls that cover half of their bodies and look beautiful in it.

Importance and reasons for wearing head ties in The Gambia:

  • In the Muslim religion, it is believed that every woman should tie their head. No man should see a woman's hair, only her husband. To wear a head tie, in some cases, is mainly a religious decision.
  • By most ethnic groups' tradition, every married woman should tie their head, and many ladies still follow that practice.
  • Ladies who wear a head tie are genuinely more respected, especially married women.
  • The head tie is considered a beautification accessory.
  • Showing natural hair is not very common in The Gambia, so head ties are mostly used by girls and women who don't want to show their natural hair and don't want to wear wigs or artificial hair extensions in their braids.
  • It's also convenient to tie hair when doing housework to prevent hair from getting dirty and dusty.
  • A head tie is often a simple solution to cover up the hair that is not in place or when braids are getting old and grown out, or new braids haven't been braided yet.
  • It's also helpful to tie the head as a cheaper alternative to the hear style since braids nowadays are becoming too expensive.

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