Hat

African, Lega peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
20th century


Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dimensions

Overall: 17 x 15 x 22 cm (6 11/16 x 5 7/8 x 8 11/16 in.)

Accession Number

2009.2655

Medium or Technique

basketry, buttons, reeds or quills, shells

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Textiles and Fashion Arts

Classifications

Costumes

As members of the Lega bwami association, which includes all circumcised adult men and their wives, advance through the association’s hierarchy, different types of hats visually reveal the grade they have attained. The headdresses’ shapes and materials have significance linked to bwami esoteric knowledge. Shells, for instance, allude to the waxing moon, while the elephant-tail bristles recall the animal’s powerful role as a symbol and alter ego of leaders.

Provenance

1994, sold by Hamill Gallery, Boston, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart