Embellished with material signifiers of wealth - namely, cowrie shells and beads - this flat-topped ceremonial hat is a striking visual expression of prestige and status. Beaded geometric designs in black white, delineated by rows of cowrie shells and alternating blue and white beads, adorn the lower half of the head adornment and side 'ear flaps'.
Blue and white, colours associated with positive attributes such as prominence and leadership among the Kuba, appear again in the band of beads that demarcates the front of the headpiece. Cruciform patterns of appliquéd cowrie shells attached to a red cotton backing flank the central beaded section, and above, the flat top of the hat displays a chequered pattern of woven natural raffia fibre.
Ex Private Collection, Belgium
Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century (1940's - 1950's)
H (Excl. Stand): 14cm
The Metropolitan Museum, 'Prestige Cap (Laket Mishiing)'
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