Student Interpretation → Jordan Fenton

  • Dance Staff
  • Dance Staff
  • Bridal Walking Stick

Man's Prestige Hat (Ashetu)

Bamum prestige hats adorned with materials of value and wealth are worn by men of status and achievement. The example in this exhibition consists of distinctive drooping burls, elevating its use beyond everyday dress. Hats of this type validate social rank and are only worn by chiefs and kings at special royal occasions.

Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)

Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)

Bamum People
Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)
20th Century
Cotton, natural dyes, coins, cowrie shells
Museum purchase, funds provided by the Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Art Acquisition Fund

Finely knitted hats are the prerogative of titled individuals of the Grassland Kingdoms of southwestern Cameroon. This elaborate example has woven burls on either side that mimic a hairstyle once popular throughout the region. The cowrie shells, coins, and blue beads on the cap – all imported and used as currency – point to the prosperity of the wearer and his advantageous position within a system of social and political advancement through acquisition of wealth. The tubular blue beads, a product of Venice, are considered one of the most prestigious types of beads, and are applied extensively to royal regalia and display objects.

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