The headdress is a very powerful piece of African tradition for many reasons throughout different tribes. A headdress may be worn in the coming together of two people for a marriage, a ceremony for a good harvest, an inauguration of a new Chief or King, sacred rituals, divination’s, funerals, and also general festivities and social gatherings.
The materials, styles and uses differ from tribe to tribe, some quite simply made from a beaded skull cap type hat with very little adornment to really elaborate over adorned cane framed headdresses. A huge number of materials can be used to adorn headdress from, cowrie shells, feathers, raffia, animal horns, pieces of metal, cloth and animal skin/fir. Many headdresses convey the message of power and strength and are danced in the very same way. Within some tribes of Africa it will only be the men who will be permitted to wear the headdresses for many have secret societies so women are not allowed. Indeed there are some tribal traditions that will only permit the Chief, King or a person of nobility to wear certain headdresses due to the fact the headdresses themselves represent not just power but power and wealth.
There are many different styles and types, plain or elaborate, of headdress that may be worn in the African world, from tribe to tribe, as many if not, as many reasons that there may be to wear and celebrate them.
Among the Kuba, such caps are known under the generic name of laket. They are worn by Kuba nobles (Mbeemy and Mbeengy) and princes as symbols of their high rank. Kuba hats such as this were worn as a part of daily attire and also as ceremonial hats.
Short beaded strands, with single cowrie shell attached on the end dangle around the edge of the hat, giving it a delicate appearance and feel. Two longer plaited, cowrie shell adorned strands hang at the front of the hat where as a single wider
Strikingly impressive Igala Horned Helmet, with its smooth curvaceous animal horns fixed on either side of a gourd, decorated with a painted on pattern/design, carved out to fit the top of the head, adorned with cowrie shells that run around both the rim and
The role of the zazaigo masquerade is to communicate with the spirits of ancestors to let them know that the deceased community member was an honourable man and should be allowed to pass through to the realm of the spirits.
A very rare Bidjogo initiators cradle headdress, this headdress would be worn by the person conducting the initiation of young boys into manhood called "fanando", which the boys under initiation would wear a very heavy and large helmet mask in the form of a bull called Essenie.
This comes from our own private collection bought from a German collector; it is absolutely adorable and very rare.
This was field collected by us along with the matching belt from Mushenge.
This beautiful Kuba hat Kalyeem headdress was collected by us from an elder of a village in the Mushenge region of the Kuba Kingdom. Materials used to create this are: Raffia, cowrie shells, glass beads and brass.
Bambara Tji Wara Headdress This is a beautiful example of a traditional style male Bambara Tji Wara / Chi Wara headdress. It was collected in Mali in 1971 by a German collector, It has very good wear patina especially where it would have been held on to the head and on the horns where it would be picked up.