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Abebe

J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere

Photography

In a thirty-year photographic project, Ojeikere sought to systematically document the rich variety and beauty of the contemporary Nigerian hairstyles he witnessed in daily life. Most of the photographs, like Abebe, were taken from behind, revealing the abstract and sculptural aspects of the hairdos.

Hairstyles are often complex signifiers of identity and social status, particularly for the Yoruba. They can indicate a woman’s age, her occupation, her religious or political power, or even her state of mind. Many hairdos are also tied to specific ceremonies, such as a wedding or the naming ceremony of a child. The abebe (fan) style shown here has an implication of “coolness,” composure, and royalty, qualities that are ideally linked.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver photograph
DATES 1975 (printed 2010)
DIMENSIONS Sheet: 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Image: 13 3/4 x 13 1/2 in. (34.9 x 34.3 cm)
COLLECTIONS Photography
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2010.33.1
CREDIT LINE Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel S. Mandel, by exchange
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