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Ceremonial Head Adornment

Ekonda, DRC

28. Ceremonial Head Adornment (Botolo). Ekonda Culture, DRC

The authority of the Ekonda chief (nkumu) was associated with the powers of the ancestors, important ritual functions, and divination. A material object that validated village-based chieftaincy was the botolo, a special type of brimmed raffia headwear worn by an Ekonda chief. This botolo is made from woven raffia fashioned into a conical, pagoda-shaped tower. The surface of the hat has been accented with geometric designs in red and white natural pigments, and a large brass disc (losanja) is affixed to the front of the hat. The disc was an item of wealth and prestige that enhanced the visual power of the hat and emphasised the prominence of the wearer.  

The botolo would have been worn by the chief during ceremonies and religious festivals as a symbol of prestige. Revered items, botolo hats were preserved and passed down through the generations of a chiefly line.

Ex Private Collection, Belgium

References

Art Institute Chicago

M.J. Arnoldi & C.M. Kreamer (1995) Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Head, p.44-45

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