Headdresses

Among the indigenous peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, headdresses have long been worn as a sign of cultural identity and social status.

Imbued with symbolism, they are an art form unto themselves, differing widely from culture to culture.

During royal court affairs, tribal chiefs and dignitaries in the Cameroonian Kingdoms wear a spectacular headdress known as the Tyn, or Juju hat. Woven onto a raffia base, its long feathers splay out into huge circles, making the Juju hat a piece of impactful wall art. 

The highly individualized hats of the Lega People from the Democratic Republic of Congo on the other hand, are completely different. Small, precious and conical in shape, with an emphasis on a central decorative protrusion sometimes incorporating a bird’s beak, Lega hats are densely decorated with shells, buttons and other artifacts, covering a woven raffia base.

The “Botolo” or chief’s hat, from the Ekonda People of the Democratic Republic of Congo are highly idiosyncratic raffia hats, built up into a pagoda-like tower of successively smaller hats, stacked on top of each other. Despite their deep roots in tribal tradition, these hats resemble a surrealist sculpture: a hat, upon a hat, upon a hat, upon a hat, until one imagines reaching the sky. The large polished metal disks that are often attached to the overall structure only add to the impact of these magical objects.

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
16 x 29 x 29 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird).

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
16 x 29 x 29 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird). Sold

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
9 x 7 x 7 ″ Hand woven and molded from: raffia, cowrie shells, basket weave, dress buttons, bird peak and glass beads; chin strap crafted from identical materials.

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird).

Royal Feather Hat (aka "juju hat" or "tyn"; Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 37 x 37 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

Royal Feather Hat (aka "juju hat" or "tyn"; Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

"Juju Hat" or "Tyn" (Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

Royal Feather Hat (aka "juju hat" or "tyn"; Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

Royal Feather Hat (aka "juju hat" or "tyn"; Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

Royal Feather Hat (aka "juju hat" or "tyn"; Bamileke People, Cameroon)
18 x 36 x 36 ″ Hand tied from feathers of chicken (or guinea bird)

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
13.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from: raffia, dress buttons, basket weave, bird beak; chin strap crafted from identical materials.

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
8 x 7 x 7 ″ Hand woven and molded from oyster shells and basket weave,

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
13.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from: rafia, oyster shells, glass beads and vinifera fibers.

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
9 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from: pangolin, bird beak, oyster shells, fish scales, and dress buttons.

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
8 x 6.5 x 6.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from: raffia, cowrie shells. basket weave and dress buttons; chin strap crafted from identical materials.

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
12.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Bwami Society Hat (Lega People, Congo)
12 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from: raffia, cowrie shells, dress buttons and bird peak; chin strap crafted from identical materials. Sold

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
16 x 8 x 8 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
14 x 8 x 5 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
15.5 x 8 x 8 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper). Sold

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
17.5 x 8 x 8 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
16 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
15 x 8 x 8 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
13 x 7.5 x 7.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
15.5 x 9 x 9 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
15 x 7 x 6 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
15.5 x 7 x 7 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
14 x 7 x 7 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
16 x 8 x 8 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).

Botolo Hat with Silver Disc (Ekonda People, Congo)
10 x 8.5 x 8.5 ″ Hand woven and molded from raffia and metal, with disc of brass (or copper).