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Beaded Crown (Oríkògbòfó)

Arts of Africa

On View: Double Take Installation, East Gallery, 1st Floor
These three works speak to the highly inventive history of Yoruba art. Incorporating outside materials, they each reflect how both a colonial past and global exchange shaped shifting ideas about local identity.

Even this bead-embroidered crown, the ultimate symbol of Yoruba kingship, is the product of a complex global story. Although the Yoruba have a long history of glassmaking, the large, multicolored ade crown depicts figures wearing bowler hats and contains beads imported by the British in the late nineteenth century into what would soon become the Nigeria colony. The smaller beaded crown, known as an oríkògbòfó, is an evolution of the ade form, but it is modeled after the wig of a British barrister (lawyer), still worn in court today by members of the Nigerian judiciary.

Yinka Shonibare, a British artist of Yoruba and Nigerian descent, used Dutch wax-printed fabric to create Skipping Girl. This material—a commodity associated with Africa but actually created in Europe, based on Indonesian designs, and sold in West Africa—serves as a symbol of the web of economic and cultural interrelationships among Africa, Asia, and Europe. Shonibare exposes cultural "authenticity" as an illusion and evokes the layers of historical connections among global cultures.
MEDIUM Beads, cloth, fiber
DATES early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 16 15/16 x 7 7/8 in. (43 x 20 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Double Take Installation, East Gallery, 1st Floor
CREDIT LINE Gift of Jean C. and Raymond E. Britt Jr. Collection, by exchange
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CAPTION Yoruba. Beaded Crown (Oríkògbòfó), early 20th century. Beads, cloth, fiber, 16 15/16 x 7 7/8 in. (43 x 20 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Jean C. and Raymond E. Britt Jr. Collection, by exchange, 2012.74. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 2012.74_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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Beaded Crown (Oríkògbòfó)