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Beaded Crown (Ade) of Onijagbo Obasoro Alowolodu, Ògògà of Ikẹ́rẹ́ (r. 1890-1928)

Arts of Africa

This beaded crown is the ultimate symbol of Yoruba kingship. Although the Yoruba have a long history of glassmaking, the beads used to make this crown would have been imported from the British in the late nineteenth century. At the time, glass beads were a signifier of wealth, and small European “seed beads” were particularly valued for their uniform size and color variety. Blue beads were particularly valuable because the color was not commonly found in natural materials.

Worn by an oba, or king, this crown with its beaded veil serves to depersonalize the man and instead emphasizes his office. It also protects onlookers from the danger of casting their eyes directly upon the divine presence of the oba.
MEDIUM Basketry, beads, cloth
  • Place Made: Osun State, Nigeria
  • DATES late 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 37 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (95.9 x 24.1 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 70.109.1a-b
    CREDIT LINE Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund, Frederick Loeser Fund, and Carll H. de Silver Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Conical basketry frame, covered with beaded cloth. Bead colors: green, yellow, amber, red, orange, white, royal and navy blue, and aqua. Top of crown surrmounted by dettachable bird. Second tier has four standing human figures, third tier has two frontal faces, two equestrian figures, and two standing figures. Attached beaded flaps at rim, with geometric patterns. Open work veil with frontal face. CONDITION: Veil flap missing beads, as are beads on equestrian figures, left standing figures, and second tier standing figures. Flaps and cloth framework frayed. Cinical basketry frame, covered by stiffened cloth base and embroidered with green, amber, yellow, red, orange, white, royal blue, aqua, and navy blue beads. Top of crown surrmounted by dettachable bird. Second tier of crown has four standing figures. Third tier has two frontal faces, two equestrian figures, two standing figures. Thress attached beaded flaps at rim, decorated with geometric designs. Forth flap, a veil, is open work with frontal face. CONDITION: Veil flap missing beads wherejoins crown proper. Beads missing from equestrian, left standing figure, and four figures of second tier. Flaps and cloth framework is frayed
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