Female weavers among the Dida in the southern Ivory Coast have developed a distinctive tradition of raffia fibre creations, requiring a labour-intensive creative process of successive stages. These precious fabrics produced by the weavers are used to create prestige garments, worn by male and female members of the Dida elite during ceremonial occasions. With its low-relief sculptural qualities and dynamic composition, this tubular raffia prestige headdress would have been worn by a high-ranking member of Dida society.
This tri-coloured, tie-dyed headdress would have been made by a hand method of plaiting together several bunches of fine raffia fibres, which, when pulled in particular directions, act as the warp and weft threads. The extremely close weave of the headdress requires particular skill and dexterity from the female creator. The colours used are all vegetable dyes: a bark infusion provides yellow, brick red and brown black are obtained by mixing iron and mud. Each colour requires a separate bath, starting with the lightest tone. A technical knowledge of the effects of vegetable dyes and the manipulation of raffia fibre results in a headdress with a crimped, gauze-like texture, organic patterns and a rich, warm colour.
Ex Private Collection, Italy
A. Van Cutsem & M. Magliani (2010) Powerful Headdresses: Africa – Asia: The Ira Brind Collection, p.172
The Metropolitan Museum