Consisting of two embellished conjoined circular and curved bands, this Lega head adornment would have been worn by a high-ranking female member of the Bwami society, an association open to all Lega adult men and women. The front of the hat is demarcated by an assemblage of arranged animal teeth, possibly camel teeth. The surface of the head adornment is decorated with prestige materials; triangular patterns of white and coloured glass beads and a range of European buttons – from early wooden buttons dating back to the Victorian-era, to mid-twentieth century plastic buttons.
The rank of a Bwami society member was reflected in the form and materials of their head adornment. Among the Lega, the teachings of the Bwami permeated all aspects of life, guiding the moral development of the individual. In many African societies, headwear offers people the possibility of expressing and communicating their sense of self, their engagement in particular social roles, their accumulated status, and their relationships to others within their community.
M. J. Arnoldi & C.M. Kreamer (1995) Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Head, p.146-149
D. P. Biebuyck (1982) Lega Dress as Cultural Artifact, African Arts, Vol. 15, No. 3