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Chest Ornament (Bibika)

A work made of glass beads, cotton thread, coins, and shells.

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  • A work made of glass beads, cotton thread, coins, and shells.


Mid–20th century


Possibly Yaka, Suku, or Holo
Kwango River region, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Central Africa

About this artwork

Distinctive, cylindrically shaped glass beads were imported to Africa in the early 20th century, where they captured the imagination of the Yaka and related peoples, who called them n-saanga. They were used to adorn chiefly headdresses and to make women’s anklets, ear pendants, necklaces, and large chest ornaments. The fringe of this red chest ornament terminates in small spiral-shaped Zimbu shells, which were commonly used as beads and currency in the region before the introduction of glass beads. [See also 2000.450].


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa




Chest Ornament (Bibika)


Democratic Republic of the Congo (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Glass beads, cotton thread, coins, and shells


21.6 × 22.2 cm (8 1/2 × 8 3/4 in.) (excluding ties; including fringe)

Credit Line

Arnold Crane Endowment

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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