Following a Kuba man's initiation as an adult member of society, he wears a small conical raffia fibre hat (laket) to indicate his status. As he progresses in society, his laket cap transforms in appearance. This fine cap - which would have belonged to a prominent member of Kuba society - shows a stylistic development from the prototypical form of the laket, as a cone-shaped, coiled raffia fibre hat with four scallop-shaped edges or 'lobes'. It is larger in size than the typically small laket caps, having been coil-woven into the shape of an elevated cone. Raised striational patterns adorn the four 'lobes' of the cap, and attached to the pinnacle are twelve owl feathers which hang vertically down over the laket.
These feathers are a significant detail, as the visual insignia of the wearer's high social position. Laket caps worn by Kuba men are not only indicators of their adult status, but also, important visual manifestations of Kuba ideas of leadership. The type of feather (lashal) attached to a laket cap is an emblem of a particular title in Kuba society, associated with the characteristics of different birds. Considered the rulers of the forest and night sky, owls are associated with the kikaam - the chief of the Kuba initiation society.
Estimated Period: 1930's-1940's
Ex Emmanuel Ameloot Collection, Belgium
H (Excl. Stand): 23cm
Diameter of Cap: 18.5cm
Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Head, 161 -163
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