About This Artwork

Idowa, Ijebu region, Nigeria
Owned by the dagburewe (king) of Idowa

Crown (Ade), Late 19th/mid–20th century

Glass beads, fabric, thread, and copper alloy
102.8 x 27.6 cm (40 1/2 x 10 7/8)

Cora Abrahamson Endowment, 1994.314

Elaborate beaded crowns are worn by rulers throughout the Yoruba kingdom. This beautiful example was one of several once belonging to the king, dagburewe, of Idowa, a town in southwest Nigeria. Crowns symbolize the inner head or spiritual essence of a Yoruba king, a notion suggested by the common motif of beaded faces that appear on either side of this crown. Faces may also imply a link between a ruler and past kings, who are influential ancestors. The veil of beads lends mystery to the king and guards others from his potent gaze. The flock of birds can be interpreted in many ways, all suggesting that no man can rule without cooperation and support.

— Descriptive text

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art of Tribes and Early Kingdoms: Selections from Chicago Collections, Jan. 12–Mar. 4, 1984, cat. pp. 56, no. 87 (ill.).

New York, Center for African Art, Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, Sept. 21, 1989–Jan. 7, 1990, cat. 31; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 10–Apr. 1, 1990, Washington D.C., National Museum of African Art, May 8–Aug. 26, 1990, Cleveland Museum of Art, Sept. 26–Dec. 9, 1990, New Orleans Museum of Art, Jan. 11–Mar. 24, 1991, Atlanta, High Museum, Apr. 23–June 16, 1991, Phoenix Art Museum, Sept. 4-Oct. 6, 1991.

Art Institute of Chicago, Heads of State: Seats of Power, Sept. 2–Nov. 7, 1995.

Publication History

Oyin Ogunba, "Crowns and 'Okute' at Idowa," Nigeria Magazine 83 (1963), pp. 249–261.

William Fagg, Yoruba Beadwork (Pace Gallery, 1980), pp. 79, pl. 24 (ill.).

Moyo Okediji, "Art of the Yoruba," African Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 23, 2 (1997), pp. 170-171, fig. 22 (ill.).

Ownership History

The Dagburewe of Idowa, Ijebu province, Ogun State, Nigeria, by the early 20th century until at least 1950 [according to William Fagg, who photographed the crown in situ in 1950. Fagg 1980, p.19, fig. 9]. Dr. and Mrs. Milton D. Ratner (died 1991), Chicago, Ill., by 1980 [Fagg 1980] until at least 1989 [Drewel et. al. 1989]. Jeffrey Hammer and Deborah Stokes, Chicago, Ill., by 1993, sold to the Art Institute, 1994.

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