Head Bead Sculpture
Among the most spectacular beaded objects from Africa are the crowns of Yoruba kings in Nigeria.
Beaded Yoruba crowns do not just signify high social status. Beads are considered sacred to the Yoruba, and only kings and priests powerful enough to span the boundary between the secular and the divine are allowed to wear them.
The crown (or ade) is the most important object in royal Yoruba regalia, and the right to wear one is limited to a small number of kings (obas) descended from royal families. The beaded veil that hangs down from the headdress is an important part of the crown.
The faces on the crowns represent and honor ancestors, one of whom might be Oduduwa, the mythic founder and first king of the Yoruba people. As such, the faces serve as reminders of the royal line, royal ancestors and the tradition of the monarchy.
The inclusion of birds on many of the crowns refers to the spirit world and the king’s ability to mediate between the realms of human beings and spirits, the secular world and the spiritual one. Birds are also said to represent female power, in its nurturing (motherly) and destructive (witch-like) aspects. It is commonly accepted that the oba (king) cannot rule without the cooperation and support of the women in his village.
Repeated patterns in the design suggest the interconnectedness of all life and the balance needed to sustain it. On a crown, such patterns can furthermore refer to the connection between the current king (oba) to previous kings through the hereditary line.
- Dimensions: Width 20cm X Height 90cm
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