possibly early 1900s
Raffia, glass beads, cowrie shells, cloth (including wool), thread, and copper alloy
Overall: 29 x 23 x 23 cm (11 7/16 x 9 1/16 x 9 1/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1998.29
The imported beads and shells on this hat were expensive, so they showed off its wearers' wealth.
Kuba men (and some women) show their title and status with hats and hat accessories. The male owner of this heavily beaded and shell-covered hat (kalyeem) had a senior title. A simple coiled basketry hat forms its foundation (similar to 1915.465). Fabric panels stitched with zig-zagging white and blue beads edged in cowries hang from the top. White bead strands with cowrie shells flow downward, pushed out over the forehead by a large brim. Technically and aesthetically, beaded Kuba hats and masks have much in common; artists specializing in beading techniques had the skills to make both, using imported beads and shells.
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