Bwami Hat for Kindi Level
Arts of Africa
This hat would only have been worn by initiates to Kindi, the highest level of Bwami. Tail hair of an elephant, a metaphor for Kindi, crowns the hat. European-made buttons began to replace cowrie shells as prestige items on such Bwami paraphernalia as the Western presence grew in eastern Congo in the early twentieth century.
Plant fiber, buttons, glass beads, elephant tail hair
early 20th century
Designated Purchase Fund
Hat composed of two layers of plant stems that are woven together in a basketry form. Exterior is covered with buttons (glass and plastic?) and the edge is trimmed with alternating orange and yellow colored glass beads. The hat is primarily covered in white buttons with a band of red in the center, with 2 sections of 3 pink buttons. The strap is decorated with pink and white buttons. The buttons are sewn on to the hat with coarse brown Z twist thread made from plant material. Sewn on to the crown of the hat is a bundle of elephant tail hair, decorated with red glass beads and two black, metal (?) beads. A piece of fiber is twined and knotted within the bundle. The lower portion of the bundle, where it is sewn on to the crown is wrapped in blue, red, and a single yellow glass bead. The surface of the hat is lightly soiled.
This item is not on view
Lega. Bwami Hat for Kindi Level, early 20th century. Plant fiber, buttons, glass beads, elephant tail hair
, 15 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (39.4 x 16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 2011.3.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2011.3.1_PS6.jpg)
overall, 2011.3.1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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