Chief’s Beaded Hat. Yoruba People, Nigeria. 1950.

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Chief’s Beaded Hat. Yoruba People, Nigeria. 1950.
A large cotton cap with glass beaded decoration to the surface. The band with horizontal blue and gold plaited rope pattern; the domed body of the cap with vertical lines of blue and gold and beads. To the sides a pair of tassels with gold beads to the surface with ‘butterfly’ shaped appliqués decorated with red and white vertical lines of beads. Blue ball to the top of the cap covered in blue beads; to the base of the band a series of long pendant strings with blue and gold beads.

Among the most spectacular beaded objects from Africa are the crowns of  Yoruba kings in Nigeria. Yoruba rulers wear crowns on state occasions and during public functions. Most are cone-shaped, with forms or features built up, then embellished over the entire surface with beads of vibrant colours. Beaded Yoruba crowns and other artefacts do not just signify high social status. Beads are considered sacred to the Yoruba, and only kings and priests powerful enough to span the boundary between the secular and the divine are allowed to wear them. The crown (ade) is the most important object in royal Yoruba regalia, and the right to wear one is limited to a small number of kings (obas) descended from royal families. Repeated patterns in the design suggest the interconnectedness of all life and the balance needed to sustain it. On a crown, such patterns can furthermore refer to the connection between the current king (oba) to previous kings through the hereditary line.

H. 30 cm

Property from a Belgium private collection

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