This rare Bamileke ceremonial head adornment consists of multiple dread-like attachments made from hair. Fetish objects, including a rodent skull, coiled shells, wicker spiral-shaped decorations and nuts, are affixed to the surface of the hair. The creative re-working of hair – shaped into the form of ‘dreads’ or embroidered into small round tufts – features in Bamileke ceremonial head adornments and costumes from the Cameroon Grasslands.
During ceremonial occasions, Bamileke headwear served as a layered ‘material language’ which spoke volumes about the social status of the wearer, and their sphere of influence within the community.
Ex Private Collection, Italy
The Metropolitan Museum