Kuba Hat "Laket Mishiing"

  • Tribe: Kuba
  • Origin: Kuba Kingdom, D.R.Congo
  • Approx Age: Mid - Later 20th Century
  • Materials: Glass beads, Raffia Weave.
  • Dimensions cm: 15 Diameter x 10 High
  • Ref. Number: 0244

This is a lovely Kuba Hat “Laket Mishiing” which was made at the same time and for the same person as the ceremonial belt. This was field collected by us along with the matching belt from Mushenge. This belt is also for sale here on a different listing.

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Photograph taken by Eliot Elisofon


Splendidly decorated caps were one type of item that indicated Kuba male social standing. Men received small raffia hats, called laket mishiing, upon completion of an initiation process that signalled their transformation into mature members of Kuba society. As they moved up the social ladder and occupied positions requiring greater experience and responsibility, their headgear continuously changed to reflect their accomplishments. Nearly all hats were based upon a type of simple domed cap worn on the crown of the head and held in place with a metal pin. Materials such as beads, shells, metal ornaments, feathers, and animal hair were affixed to this structure depending on the nature and extent of the wearer’s achievements. For special occasions the wearing of the laket is still imperative. The cap is worn on the crown of the head and is held in place with a metal hat pin.

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.