Pictured here, a group of Botolo hats stands closely together, as if conferring to make a decision. Perhaps they are examining the small jewelry box placed in front of them, to decide on its merits as a gift. Will the gift be accepted? We don’t know the answer, but we can be sure that the decision will be a wise one, since Botolo hats are only worn by high chiefs and respected tribal elders.
Made by the Ekonda People from the Congolese rainforest, the Botolo hat is hand-woven from raffia and features multiple circular brims which form a tall, pagoda shaped tower. The three hats in the center include a polished brass disk, which function to affirm the wearer’s considerable wealth and social prestige. The jewelry box is from 19th Century France and made of brass, tortoise shell and silk. From it flow variously, beaded necklaces of African origin.
REFERENCES: 1- Biebuyck, Daniel P. and Nelly Van Den Abbeele. 1984. The Power of Headdresses, Brussels: Tendi. 2- Perani, Judith. 1997. “Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Head.” Journal of African Arts. Vol. 30, No. 2.