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Lega Bwami Hat Cowries Mussel Shells Congo African Art

Regular Price: $225.00

Special Price: $132.00

Product #: 84391
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Title Lega Bwami Hat Cowries Mussel Shells Congo African Art
Type of Object Ceremonial Bwami Hat
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Lega
Materials Basketry, Cowrie and mussel shells
Approximate Age Second half 20th century
Dimensions 11.5 inches L. x 7 inches diam (including band / hair)
Overall Condition Good
Damage/Repair General wear, scratches on cowrie shell missing


Provenance: Displayed at the South Dakota Art Museum in 2011. From the exhibition   African-made beads and beadwork. 

Additional Information: This is a traditional conical Lega hat. The framework was made of vegetal fibres using basketry techniques. The surface is decorated with  buttons and mussel shells. 


Lega hats such as this reveal status among the Bwami secret society which governs most of Lega life. Such hats are usually decorated with elements from animal realm such as shells, horn, bird beaks, hide, skin, etc, because animals are important in Bwami symbolism, and elephant, pangolin, and hornbill represent different levels of Bwami. For a fascinating article with numerous examples, see Elizabeth Cameron's article on Lega Hats in Arnoldi and Kreamer's CROWNING ACHIEVEMENTS-AFRICAN ARTS OF DRESSING THE HEAD