Man’s Bwami Hat, called Mukuba (Primary Title)

Unknown, Chinese, ca. 1900-1500 (Artist)

19th-20th century
Lega
wickerwork, cowrie shells, elephant tail, cloth, glass beads, copper wire
Democratic Republic of Congo
Overall (with stand): 18 3/4 × 10 3/4 × 12 in. (47.63 × 27.31 × 30.48 cm)
Overall (without stand): 14 1/2 × 10 3/4 × 12 in. (36.83 × 27.31 × 30.48 cm)
88.125
Men of the highest male grade of Bwami, Lutumbo lwa Kindi, wear hats of this type. Cowries signify wealth, while the elephanttail hairs connect the Kindi grade to the elephant’s quiet, awesome strength. In ceremonies that address the dangers of fighting and Bwami’s corresponding peacekeeping role, women wear their husband’s mukuba hats while handling their equivalent woman’s hat, the lukunia.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
"Spirit of the Motherland." Roanoke: Museum of Western Virginia. September 1995- January 1996. Peninsula Fine Arts Center: January- May 1996.
David Park Curry, “What’s in a Frame,” in Eli Wilner, ed., The Gilded Edge in America (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000) p. 155.

Richard B. Woodward, African Art (Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1994) p. 40, ill.

Woodward, Richard B. African Art: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2000. (p. 40-41)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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