The head – the pinnacle of a person – occupies a central image in African culture. This surmounting part of the body ties an individual to their family, ancestors, community – even their destiny. The creative re-shaping of the head, through the use of hats, caps, crowns, hairpins, ear and lip adornments, aesthetically elaborate the head and increase its symbolic potency. Across the African continent, adornments intimately associated with the head are invested with heightened value.
In many traditional societies, head and hair adornments are fashion statements in the most literal sense of the word. Serving as visual shorthand for personal identity, headwear speaks volumes about an individual’s sense of self, engagement in social roles, title, status and relationships to others within the wider community.
These items are unique visual archives of African history; archives that continue to actively fashion the future.
We hope you enjoy this unique exhibition focusing on adornments from the neck-up!