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Bwami Hat for Kindi Level

Arts of Africa

This hat would only have been worn by initiates to Kindi, the highest level of Bwami. Tail hair of an elephant, a metaphor for Kindi, crowns the hat. European-made buttons began to replace cowrie shells as prestige items on such Bwami paraphernalia as the Western presence grew in eastern Congo in the early twentieth century.
CULTURE Lega
MEDIUM Plant fiber, buttons, glass beads, elephant tail hair
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS
DATES early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 15 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (39.4 x 16.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2011.3.1
CREDIT LINE Designated Purchase Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION Lega. Bwami Hat for Kindi Level , early 20th century. Plant fiber, buttons, glass beads, elephant tail hair , 15 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (39.4 x 16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 2011.3.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2011.3.1_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2011.3.1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Hat composed of two layers of plant stems that are woven together in a basketry form. Exterior is covered with buttons (glass and plastic?) and the edge is trimmed with alternating orange and yellow colored glass beads. The hat is primarily covered in white buttons with a band of red in the center, with 2 sections of 3 pink buttons. The strap is decorated with pink and white buttons. The buttons are sewn on to the hat with coarse brown Z twist thread made from plant material. Sewn on to the crown of the hat is a bundle of elephant tail hair, decorated with red glass beads and two black, metal (?) beads. A piece of fiber is twined and knotted within the bundle. The lower portion of the bundle, where it is sewn on to the crown is wrapped in blue, red, and a single yellow glass bead. The surface of the hat is lightly soiled. Condition: good.
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Lega. <em>Bwami Hat for Kindi Level
</em>, early 20th century. Plant fiber, buttons, glass beads, elephant tail hair
, 15 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (39.4 x 16.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 2011.3.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2011.3.1_PS6.jpg)