In Kuba society, title holding is dominated by men; there are only two titles held by women. Headdresses were and are the most visible expression of one’s standing within the intricate Kuba system of leadership and title holding. This Kuba headdress (mpaan), combining the conical shape of the male kalyeem headdress with a rigid semi circular half-crown shape with beaded side flaps, would have worn by a senior female title holder. The shape of the mpaan echoes the structure of several Kuba masks, including the Mukyeeng. Embellished with cowrie shells and small blue and white beads, this headdress is a rich display of rank and status. Only very few women in the entourage of the Nyim enjoy the privilege, with his express permission, of wearing such a headdress.
H (Excl. Stand): 26.5cm
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Mary Jo Arnoldi, Christine Mullen Kreamer & MichaelOladejo Aloláyan, ‘Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Head’,p. 161 - 168
Anne van Cutsem & Mauro Magliani, 'Powerful Headdresses:Africa, Asia', p.177