Chieftain's Cap
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Chieftain's Cap

Mbala, DRC

25. Chieftain's Cap (Mpu a Nzim). Mbala, DRC

This chieftain’s hat (mpu a nzim) has been skilfully woven from raffia fibre into a dome-shaped form. Overlapping strands of darker and lighter coloured strands of raffia create a visually attractive patterned surface, and groups of Olivancillaria shells have been arranged into prominently-placed pompoms.

With its incorporation of prestige materials, the hat would have been worn as a visual emblem of leadership status by Mbala chiefs, land chiefs, or high-ranking dignitaries. These shells, used as a currency by the Yaka, convert economic value into symbolic wealth, as material expressions of power and status.

Ex Private Collection, Italy

H (Excl. Stand): 10cm


M.J. Arnoldi & C.M. Kreamer (Eds.) (1995) Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing The Head, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, p. 102

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H (Incl. Stand): 31 CM
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