Woman's hat

Zulu peoples
early 20th century

Object Place: South Africa


Overall: 10.2 x 30.5 cm (4 x 12 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Cotton over grass-fiber basketry frame, pigment, blue wool felt over grass and paper interior.

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Amongst many African communities, headwear and hairstyles are important signifiers of social, religious, and political status that can represent deeply held cultural beliefs. Many Zulu women wear this type of flared hat (isicholo), which was traditionally reserved for married women. Today, this type of hat has been adopted as part of “traditional” Zulu dress ensembles and is worn almost exclusively during ceremonial events and pageants.


Between 1980s and 1990s, acquired in Paris by anonymous donors; 2009, anonymous gift to the MFA. (Accession date: January 20, 2010)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift