early to mid-1900s
Plant fiber, seashells, seeds, pods, buttons, and probably cotton
Overall: 35.8 x 26.7 x 19.2 cm (14 1/8 x 10 1/2 x 7 9/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1995.211
On view at:
This prestige cap combines local organic materials and imported machine-made materials like buttons.
Among the Lega people of the eastern Democratric Republic of Congo, headgear was an important indicator of social position. Certain caps, headbands, and headdresses were the exclusive prerogative of the Bwami men's association. This headdress, called sawamazembe, was worn only by high-ranking members of this group. The hat's wig-like form represents a woman's coiffure, illustrating the blurring of gender distinctions among high-ranking Bwami members. The shell ornaments on the front suggest the moon, while buttons and a seed pod provide additional embellishment.
The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email email@example.com.
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.
All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.