Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public

Female Headdress (Nimba, D'mba, or Yamban)

A work made of wood and brass tacks with traces of pigment.

Image actions

  • A work made of wood and brass tacks with traces of pigment.


Mid 19th-early 20th century


Coastal West Africa

About this artwork

This majestic headdress embellished with upholstery tacks depicts the traditional Baga ideal of mature womanhood, with pendulous breasts that connote child-bearing and nurturing. The incised lines covering its surface mimic body scarification, and it was originally colored with pigments. These massive sculptures are worn by young men in entertainment masquerades that celebrate Baga ethnicity. In the late 1950s Baga art traditions and related religious practices were temporarily abandoned due to the introduction of Islam into the region and the “demystification” campaign of Guinea’s first president. The country achieved independence in 1958 after the Islamic Revolution of 1954–57, and this national program was aimed at purging traditional religion of its essential mysticism. In practice, demystification led to persecution and the massive destruction of ritual art. Baga culture and art was subsequently revived in the late 1980s.


On View, Gallery 137


Arts of Africa




Female Headdress (Nimba, D'mba, or Yamban)


Guinea (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.



Wood and brass tacks with traces of pigment


119.4 × 33 × 59.1 cm (47 × 13 × 23 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

W. G. Field Fund, Inc.; Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson

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.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions