Yoruba Beaded Coronet, Orikogbofo

Yoruba peoples

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Yoruba Beaded Coronet, Orikogbofo, 20th century

  • On View

Natural fiber, cloth, and beads

Dimensions: 9 × 9 3/4 × 5 1/4 in. (22.9 × 24.8 × 13.3 cm)

Gift of Genevieve and Richard Shaw, by exchange, 2013.4

According to Yoruba oral tradition, Oduduwa, the first ancestor of kings and father of the people, began the tradition of wearing the beaded crown with a veil to represent kingship. This coronet is less formal than its veiled counterpart, giving its maker more creative liberties. The hat maker creates designs based on the king’s desires and inserts his own in the space remaining. Embroidered on this coronet is a face on each side, representing the king’s ancestors, believed to guard the king’s head and secure his wisdom and seat of power. This orikogbofo is likely a modern coronet, as the floral designs are seemingly adapted from a contemporary motif. The bird atop the coronet may be symbolic of a number of things, such as witchcraft, the power of the king, or Yoruba female ancestors known as the “great mothers.”

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