each one a silent language, as each one has a differnt symbolic meaning. This tradition has been around for centuries – possibly derived from the caravans of people crossing the Sahara from ancient Egypt. Now however, Islamic law forces women to cover their heads and they have been forced to abandon these traditions.
(From left to rt: Bella wife, Songhai festival, young girls becoming women, young girls again, Gao style….unfortunately not pictured here, but there is one headdress that even means a woman is mad at her husband! also another for when a woman wants a child; another for when she gets pregnant (to let the community know); etc.)