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Yoruba Beaded Crown Nigeria African Art

Product #: 125772
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Title Yoruba Beaded Crown Nigeria African Art
Type of Object Crown
Country of Origin Nigeria
People Yoruba
Materials Glass, fabric
Approximate Age Second half 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 18 Inches
Width: 8 Inches
16 inch strands
Overall Condition Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Missing strands

Additional Information: Yoruba beaded crown with veil nicely embellished with multi-color beads and decorated with abstractmotifs and  faces, and birds.  Faces are characterized bytubular eyes and nose. Those two facial details have important roles in the life of Yoruba. Proverbs help understand the symbolism of these details: According to Moyo O.(2004), "The eyes are the security lamps of the head, as stated in the Yoruba proverb, "Ojú lálàkan fi I só ori-the crab watches its head with its eyes. The eyes are also the drivers-Ojú latókùn ara, bójú bà fó, ókúnkún lò kú, meaning, "the eyes are the body conductors, and if the eyes are blind, everything turns darkness" ."

The right to wear crowns is limited to approximately fifty Yoruba kings. Theoretically, only direct descendants of one of the sixteen children of the god ORISHA, first king of the Yoruba people, can wear them. ORISHA blessed mankind with the use of beads, and their use is restricted to those whose spiritual powers enable them to move across the boundary that separates men from gods, the secular from the sacred. The crown itself is worshiped. It is placed upon the king's head from behind, usually by the senior wife, because he may not look upon the bird which goes on the top, which holds powerful medicines to protect him and his destiny. The veil is to keep viewers from seeing the king's face, masking his individuality, and also focusing attention on the real focus of power, the crown. Crowns are called orisha (deity) and is the object of care and veneration by a woman at court.   It was either of the orishas Olokun (god of the sea) or Obalufon that gave humans the gift of beads. See Fagg's "YORUBA BEADWORK." "In almost all instances of Yoruba ritual art, birds are references to the mystical power of women, known as "awon iya wa" (our mothers), or abusively as "aje" (witches). As there are positive and negative valences to the mystical powers of women (and gods, spirits and ancestors), so too the substances guarded by the bird-mothers can either protect or destroy the person who wears the crown. Given the central role played by women in controlling, placing, protecting, and sacrificing to the crown, the birds signify that the king himself rules only with the support and cooperation of "awon iya wa." According to the Orangun-Ila: "Without the mothers I could not rule. I could not have power over witchcraft in the town." "Yoruba; Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought," by Henry John Drewal and John Pemberton II ......

Recommended Reading: 

Fagg, W. and J. Pemberton,  Yoruba Beadwork, Art of Nigeria, 1980.

Drewal, Henry J., Mason, J. Beads Body and Soul. Art and light in the Yoruba Universe, 1998

 Daniel Mato and Chelsea Cooksey, Yoruba: At of Life. The Bennett-Luther Collection, 2004