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Post Lot Text
This magnifcent beaded hat was likely made during the second half of the 19th century for royal use. The power of the beaded design, incorporating the mask and self-dompting fgure within a framework of forceful motifs, is of far superior quality to any beadwork made this century, let alone the accoutrements, for instance, of priests made during the last sixty or seventy years. The beads are also small and exceptionally well sewn. The form is that of a hunter’s hat, which can be worn either with a fap over each ear or over the forehead and the nape of the neck. Most Yoruba men possess a hat of this design and some are even beaded, although only on one side, a trend that seems to have crept in during the 1940s. Talbot (1926, fg. 191) illustrates the Oni of Ife wearing a crown beaded with a mask of similar design to the one on the present hat, and of the same high curved ford, but without the faps — instead a beaded fringe falls about the border. According to Frank Willett, however, this hat could not be from Ife because the self-dompting figure does not occur there; it is a motif frequently found further south. Willett also notes that the Oni of Ife has to authorize the designs of the crowns of the kings under his jurisdiction (about sixteen, but that number may be hypothetical and have some relevance to Ifa). At the beginning of the century several unauthorized crowns were discovered and the owners prosecuted under native law” (Christie’s London, Tribal Art, 3-4 July 1990, p. 29 [auction catalogue]).