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Royal Slippers

Royal Slippers (bata ileke)

Yoruba People
Nigeria
Royal Slippers (bata ileke)
20th Century
Glass beads, leather
Gift of Rod McGalliard
1995.28.20

Beaded slippers were part of the regalia worn by the Yoruba king (oba) when he appeared in public ceremonies. Beaded shoes became popular in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries when European fashion became the model for prestige wear and Yoruba leaders began to move freely outside of the palace. Rulers created laws prohibiting commoners from wearing shoes and other items associated with royalty. When the king is greeted in Yoruba society, people say, “May the crown rest long on your head, may shoes remain long on your feet.”

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