Kuba Hat “Kalyeem” Headdress
- Tribe: Kuba
- Origin: Kuba Kingdom, D.R.Congo
- Approx Age: Mid – later 20th Century
- Materials: Glass Beads, Metal, Cowrie Shells and Raffia
- Dimensions cm: 16 Tall x 15 diameter
- Ref. Number: 0227
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.
Covered with cowrie shells and tiny glass beeds, the Kalyeem headdress, which is similar to the Kupash but more elaborately adorned, is worn by members of the royal family, who are the only people allowed to literally cover their bodies from head to toe with these highly decorative small shells, underlining their wealth in the process.
Reference: Powerful Headdresses, Anne Van Cutsem / Mauro Magliani
The Kuba kingdom, founded in the early seventeenth century in the central part of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, is made up of several different ethnicities that pay tribute to a king (nyim). The first nyim was the legendary Shyaam-a-Mbul Ngwoong, from the Bushoong subgroup, who is said to have introduced the administrative and political structures that continue today. Hats and headdresses are the most visible expression of one’s standing within the intricate Kuba system of leadership and title-holding.
The art of the Kuba is one of the most highly developed of all African traditions, and significant cultural accomplishments are part of their heritage. Among the best known of Kuba art forms are royal portrait figures, ndop, idealized representations. An ndop may have played a role in the installation of the king, and during his life it is said to have been not only a portrait but also the soul double of the king. Whatever happened to him was believed to happen to it as well. Closely associated with the king’s fertility, the ndop was kept in the woman’s quarters, and was placed next to his wives during childbirth to ensure safe delivery. The kings typically sit facing forward with legs crossed, the left in front of the right; the right hand, with fingers extended, rests on the right knee, and the left hand holds the royal dagger. Geometric patterns cover the stomach and are continued on the back of the figure. The royal statues show the king wearing a rectangular shody hat, they are mounted on quadrangular pedestals. The sculptures include objects significant to each particular king, identifying his own personal accomplishments.
Reference : Zyama.com