Beaded Crown (Oríkògbòfó)
Arts of Africa
ART OF INNOVATION
These three works speak to the highly inventive history of Yoruba art. Incorporating outside materials, they each reflect how both a colonial past and global exchange shaped shifting ideas about local identity.
Even this bead-embroidered crown, the ultimate symbol of Yoruba kingship, is the product of a complex global story. Although the Yoruba have a long history of glassmaking, the large, multicolored ade crown depicts figures wearing bowler hats and contains beads imported by the British in the late nineteenth century into what would soon become the Nigeria colony. The smaller beaded crown, known as an oríkògbòfó, is an evolution of the ade form, but it is modeled after the wig of a British barrister (lawyer), still worn in court today by members of the Nigerian judiciary.
Yinka Shonibare, a British artist of Yoruba and Nigerian descent, used Dutch wax-printed fabric to create Skipping Girl. This material—a commodity associated with Africa but actually created in Europe, based on Indonesian designs, and sold in West Africa—serves as a symbol of the web of economic and cultural interrelationships among Africa, Asia, and Europe. Shonibare exposes cultural "authenticity" as an illusion and evokes the layers of historical connections among global cultures.
Beads, cloth, fiber
early 20th century
Gift of Jean C. and Raymond E. Britt Jr. Collection, by exchange
This item is not on view
Yorùbá. Beaded Crown (Oríkògbòfó), early 20th century. Beads, cloth, fiber, 16 15/16 x 7 7/8 in. (43 x 20 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Jean C. and Raymond E. Britt Jr. Collection, by exchange, 2012.74. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2012.74_PS9.jpg)
overall, 2012.74_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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