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Crown (adenla)

Unidentified Yoruba artist
20th century
Glass beads, cotton fabric, rattan
Associated with
Western Africa and the Guinea Coast, Nigeria, Africa
Costume & clothing, jewelry & personal accessories
Current Location
On View, Gallery 117
34 x 8 3/16 in. (86.4 x 20.8 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Jeffrey and Jackie Hammer
Public Domain
Object Number
Lavish glass beading on this crown emphasizes the wealth and power of a Yoruba "oba" (king). Glass beads, imported from eastern Europe and northern Italy via transatlantic trade, became an important signifier of wealth. This crown’s veil concealed the face of the oba; the luxury of bountifully beaded ornamentation further underscored the separation between a semidivine king and his constituency. The crown’s principal conical shape highlights the significance of an oba’s "ori inu," the "inner head," which in Yoruba belief holds one’s character, intellect, destiny, and spiritual essence. The ori inu takes precedent over the "ori ode," one’s physical "outer head."
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