- Tribe: Kuba
- Origin: DRC
- Approx Age: Late 20th Century
- Materials: Raffia, Cloth, Cowrie Shells, Beads
- Dimensions cm: 15 diameter
- Ref. Number: 0888
A lovely Kuba Laket hat from the Kuba Kingdom DRC. The frame of this cap is made of vegetable fibers using basketry techniques. Inside the hat has been covered with a cloth fabric where as the outside has then been adorned completely with small cowrie shells. A string of both black and white beads have been attached around the top.
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. They were also part of their regalia and play the role of emblem of the status and social rank. They also intend to demonstrate royal health and power.
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.