Image Gallery → Power and Prestige
Democratic Republic of Congo
Fabric, glass beads, cowrie shells
Gift of Rod McGalliard
Flat topped hats, mpaan, are worn for ceremonies that display family wealth and unity, as well as funerals for high-ranking individuals and other important community events. Only women in the king’s entourage may be authorized to wear the mpaan. The mpaan serves as a base for the more elaborately beaded conical hat, the kupash. The black and white triangular beaded pattern on the sides is called lakwoon, meaning “crochet.” The cowry shell accentuated by rings of glass beads in the center of the cap echoes the large white conus shell adornment on royal headdresses.