The surface of this fine early head adornment features a striking pattern of blue and green triangular-shaped designs echoed by simple blue details on the edges of the laket. The use of certain colours communicated the owner's positive attributes, with the colour blue being associated with prominence and leadership. A further visual interplay is provided by the difference between the textural scallop-shaped 'lobes' and finely woven 'dome' of the hat.
In Kuba society, adult men received small raffia hats, called laket mishiing, after completing an initiation process that marked their transformation into mature members of their community. These small caps, worn on the crown of the head, were finely woven from raffia fibre into a distinctive dome-like form, with four scallop-shaped edges. A Kuba man’s laket mishiing was a symbol of his cultural identity – and also a visual reflection of his status, changing in appearance as he progressed up the social ladder.
As the owner took on additional titles in society, his hat became more embellished. Therefore, more elaborate versions of the laket were reserved for high-ranking members of society, serving as signals of the owner’s upward mobility.
Height (Excl. Custom Display Stand): 8.5cm
Width (Excl. Custom Display Stand): 17cm
The Metropolitan Museum, 'Prestige Cap (Laket Mishiing)'
(Click on images to enlarge)