Student Interpretation → Emily Yetzer

  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel

Yoruba Beaded Crowns

The adenla or crown is the most impressive of the beaded crowns. It expresses a mastery of beadwork and conveys power through both the formal elements and the abstract artistry. Ideas of power are portrayed through its beaded veil that shields the king's face from harming the lay people by his powerful gaze and through the figurative depiction of the ancestors, whom he calls upon for guidance. The birds atop of the crown evoke the spirits of "Our Mothers" who also aid in his rule.

Beaded Crown

Beaded Crown (adenla)

Yoruba People
Beaded Crown (adenla)
20th Century
Imported glass seed beads, fabric
Gift of Rod McGalliard

The crown (ade) of the Yoruba king (oba) symbolizes both his divine authority and his life force (ase). The adenla, or great crown with beaded veil (iboju) protects his spiritual power, and also protects his subjects from the force of his gaze. The egret on the very top of the crown, okin, symbolizes the king’s role as peacemaker and protects the medicines stored in the crown, whereas those below it are symbolic of women’s powers. The overall blue and white color scheme evokes the Yoruba concept of coolness associated with deities whose attributes are rationality and calm. The strong zigzag pattern suggests the intensity of the king’s ase, or alternatively, the lightning bolts of the fiery god, Shango.

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