Image Gallery → Power and Prestige

  • Male Royal Ancestor Mask
  • Kuba Belt
  • Kuba Belt
  • Sash with Triangular Pendant
  • Hat (Mpaan)
  • Kuba Belt
  • Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Crown (adenla)
  • Royal Slippers
  • Elephant Mask
Prestige Hat

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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