About This Artwork

Yoruba
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




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