The moussor, more than just an accessory...

Dernière mise à jour : 10 mai 2021

Many in my entourage know that each time I visit Senegal, I am always amazed by the elegance of Senegalese women, especially Dakar women. In this article we are going to discover another use of fabric, a heritage with multiple meanings, an accessory that hides much more than beautiful hair ...

The moussor as an heritage...

If the outfit of women is an important part of Senegalese culture, the moussor, which is a headscarf, is a key accessory and a must have in a woman's wardrobe.

This piece of cloth is a part of the African cultural identity, a real heritage: "Moussoro" in Mali, "Gele" in Nigeria, Head teas on the islands, "Duku" in Malawi and Ghana, "Dhuku" in Zimbabwe, "Tukwi" in Botswana, "Gele" in the Yoruba, "Ichafu" in the Ibo, "Kuna Diala" in the Bambara (the headband that shakes the head), "Tabla" in the Fon in Benin, "Gnoubouholo" in the Senoufo, "K'sa" among the Tuareg. 

Wearing a headscarf takes its roots in the pre-colonial period. And, depending on the country and the ethnic group, the headscarf has a special meaning. The sociologist Faco Diarra explains that in Mali the headscarf was perceived as a symbol of divine protection.  Wearing a headscarf is also a common practice in many cultures during important ceremonies such as weddings, since this accessory is considered as an attribute of femininity. 

Les moussons de Awa

Historically, among the Yoruba peoples of West Africa (Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana), there were several types of scarves. The way they were  tied indicated the social status of a woman. For example, if the end of the scarf pointed to the right side, it meant that the woman  was married. And if the tip of the scarf was on the left side, the woman was single and could be courted.

The moussor, or how to beautify a silhouette...

Usually moussors or scarves were worn by women with their traditional clothes. Today everyone can wear the moussor no matter the outfit and opportunity. It became a trendy accessory after  famous black  stars have adopted it and integrated it in their style. I love this touch that enhances the silhouette and, like a crown, the moussor makes women look and feel majestic.

Some women, as  Awa Seck pictured here and founder of "The moussors of Awa", decided to promote "this little piece of fabric and make it a fashion accessory for everyday life". 

The moussor in artworks…

This elegance and feminity have inspired artists from all disciplines, such as the painter Baba Ly, who loves to paint sumptuous women, or the sculptor Boureima Ouedraogo with his statuettes representing women who  always look so gracious.

You can also see representation of moussors in handcraft pieces as on the very popular trays made by Boubacar Konate or the under glass paintings of Alexis Ngom where the women are always shown wearing their colourful boubous and of course their moussors!

If you are looking for an original artwork to enhance your interior or for an original and unique gift, I have something in store for you!

Artistically yours,



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