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Gallery Ezakwantu

African Art  - Art Africain - Tribal Art -  菲洲艺术 - Afrikanische Kunst


Central and Southern African Tribal Art

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African Headdresses - African Wigs

Coiffes Africaines – Perruques Africaines - Garnitures de Tęte Africaines

Afrikanischer Kopfschmuck - Afrikanische Frisur - Afrikanische Kopfbedeckung











Yaka - Suku - Pende Beaded Crowns


Democratic Republic of the Congo - DRC




Pende Chief Kwilu - Circa 1970 - Photographer Eliot Elisofon


On offer are two beaded crowns of Pende, Suku or Yaka origin, groups inhabiting Angola and the former Belgian Congo. These headdresses were called misango and owned by chiefs, sub chiefs, nobles, headmen, healers and headmasters of the nkanda initiation camp. Crowns were seen at ceremonies and rituals that required social status as they expressed authority.




Example 'A'


Example 'A' has large protruding horns - a style typical of mid 20th century Yaka and Suku chieftain attire. The beads are tubular. During the 1980's related beads were collected from the Salampasu. 





Pende Chief Kwilu wearing bicorn headdress - Circa 1970 - Photographer Eliot Elisofon





Example 'A'





Yaka Chief - Muela Buana Village - Photographer Eliot Elisofon



Example 'B'


Example 'B' is a fabulous example dating to the mid 1900's. The bicorn shape is said to be a status symbol representing the buffalo.





Above - a related example currently on display at the National Museum for African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.




Example 'B'


The appendages are characteristic of Yaka crowns.





Yaka Chief Kiamfu Kinzadi Mudinga N'tengua - Circa 1976 - Arthur Bourgeois






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Mbukushu Wigs - Circa 1920


Botswana - Namibia - Southern Angola


Mambukush Mampukush Mbukushi Humbukush





Mbukushu Wig - Example 'A'


The Mbukushu 'or Humbukush' wig above and below dates to the 1920's or before.





Mbukushu women wore removable wigs as a coiffeur. Plant fibre from the Baobab tree was stitched onto an inner leather cap or crown.




Mbukushu Woman - Botswana - Okavango © Copyright Ezakwantu


Wigs were covered with ochre, animal fat and decorated with beads, buttons and shells. Different clans call them different names. We have heard Dishukeka Chikeka, Thihukeka, Mamburundu and Ihiho.





Coiffures of this age are rare, as they were in fashion during a period when the Mbukushu were seldom visited. It is decorated with Venetian glass beads that easily predate1920.





Circa 1920 - Mbukushu - Ivy's Albums - Local Court




Mbukushu Wig - Example 'B'


Angolans fled their country from 1961 at the outbreak of the Angolan war for independence. The Mbukushu people sought refuge in the Caprivi Strip (South West Africa - Namibia), the Okavango Delta (Botswana) and South Western Zambia. 





This Mbukushu wig is highly decorated. It was rediscovered in Austria, so has an assumed connection to German South West African missions. Undoubtedly the wig was collected during German or South African colonial rule.





Click (Hair-Styles, Headdresses and Ornaments in Namibia and Southern Angola) to buy the out of print  book.






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Pondo - Mpondo Wig


South Africa






Pondo women wore decorative wigs or headdresses during the late 19th and 20th centuries.


This Pondo wig combines three separate article that join to a single elegant object.










Headdresses of the Mpondo are rare in collections.









Cords were made from plant fiber, ochre  and beads then attached to the creation. 






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Headdresses of the Himba


Ovahimba Wigs - Crowns






Himba Ehando Wig


Worn by Young Girls from Puberty




Young Himba Women wearing Ehando wigs.


During ceremonial activates, girls between the ages of seven and puberty would often wear wigs called Ehando, with loosely hanging plaits. These wigs are passed from mother to daughter and quite rare in collections.






Himba Ehando Wig




Himba Ehando Wig - # 262


Ehando wigs are made of elephant and or buffalo hide, twisted baobab fibre, glass beads, iron beads, fat and ochre. Above - glass and steel beads, as well as a zipper were added. A custom made iron stand is included.











Ovahimba Ehando Wig




Himba Ehando Wig - # 262


Relatively few Ehando wigs have been collected and as a result are rarely found in museum collections. Larger resolution images are available on request.







Himba Ekori Bonnet or Crown




Himba woman admiring an Ekori headdress or bonnet.


When a young Himba girl has completed her puberty ceremony, the so-called Ekori festival takes place. At this stage, she receives the Ekori headdress and only then becomes marriageable. The Ekori is made of tanned sheep or goatskin and has three leaf-shaped heavily stitched upper horns, sometimes decorated with iron beads. The horns represent cattle and the amount (three), the Himba's superiority over them.






Sorry - No Stock









Himba woman with Ekori headdresses - a mother dressing her or bonnet.


As soon as a young woman begins to wear the Ekori, long thin plaits ozondjise are made for her. Should she marry in the meantime she must observe a number of taboos while she wears the Ekori. She is only regarded as a fully-fledged woman after she has borne a child. The Erembe headdress replaces the Ekori when a woman has been married for about a year or has had a child. The Ekori is from then on worn only during ceremonial occasions.








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Zulu Hats - Zulu Headdress


Human Hair & Fabric Hats worn by Zulu Women


A Celebration of Zulu Creativity - Isicolo\





Some Background




                                            Mariann Hill Monastery                                                     Circa 19th Century Postcard                


Throughout the 19th century - Zulu women sported coiffures that protruded upwards from the back of the head.





Postcards - Circa 1920


The coiffures were prestigious, admired and in some cases, up to a meter long.





                       Photograph by Duggan-Cronin Circa 1935                                                  Circa 1900 Albumen Print





                                        Slide -  Barbara Tyrrell @ Copyright                                          Photograph by Barbara Tyrrell @ Copyright


Zulu hair fashions developed into removable hats as a result of European contact.




Slide by Barbara Tyrrell @ Copyright


Small amounts of human hair remained a part of each creation, suggesting that the removable coiffure remained an extension of the persons head.





Zulu Hat number 566.


Zulu Hat number 566 is made of palm fiber, cord, fabric, hard board, ochre and human hair.





Photographs by Barbara Tyrrell @ Copyright


Amounts of beadwork were attached to hats at the occasion of a wedding.





Zulu Hat number 566 includes an iron mount.


Women constructed the foundation of the hat on a lightweight frame of basketwork. Traditionally Zulu men were the weavers, but by this time so many were working in the mines, the task had become woman's work.




Related hats - Zulu Shembe Festival - South African TRIBAL LIFE TODAY - Pg 135




Mid 20th century postcards.


The ease of a hat's removal allowed for the girth of the object to increase, while the basketry coil technique allowed  the body to flare.




South African TRIBAL LIFE TODAY - Pages 44 and 45 - Photography Jean Morris


As the size of the hats increased, both human hair and knotted or stitched woven fabric were used to cover and decorate the coiled basketry frame. Hats were attached around the forehead with a band of fabric tied to the rear.


Click either thumbnail for enlargement. 

Zulu hat number 8726


Lamb's wool was also used in the place of human hair. Item 8726 above is a rare example of a combination of human hair and lamb's wool used to cover the structure. Note that the mounting technique used in our displays, allows the hat to be viewed from different directions.




Zulu Hat number 577  + - 50 centimetres wide.


The Zulu hat above represents the largest form of Zulu human hair hat known to us. In addition, Zulu hats this thin are rare, as evidenced above right. Even so, basketry work remained coiled grass fibre. Modern Zulu women often walk with an umbrella to shade them from the sun. During the overlapping fashion period that pertains to these large Zulu hats, the need for an umbrella largely fell away. 




Zulu Hat number 579 + - 50 centimetres wide.


Our Zulu hats do not have large black circles, stars or silly crosses at their centre. This is because we do not invent or tamper with artefacts like some other dealers. The mentioned markings were NOT traditionally  found on Zulu hats and therefore are NOT correct.




Zulu Hat number 580 + - 50 centimetres wide.


Larger resolution images of all hats are available on request.



Flared Zulu Human Hair Hat




The Zulu - Alice Mertens Page 48 and 44



Fabric Zulu Hats




Zulu Hat number 581 


Over time, human hair hats gave way to those covered entirely with cotton fibre as above.




Zulu Hat number 581 + - 46 centimetres wide.


Thousands of stitches added strength and appeal, while the inner construction remained sturdy basketry work.




Zulu Hat number 7078


Our large fabric hats are old and well used, apparent from the tie down fabric. Though not always shown, each Zulu hat includes a custom made iron stand.




Zulu Hat number 7078



 Slide by Barbara Tyrrell @ Copyright


Smaller Zulu hats appeared from 1980, and were also used at weddings.




Decorative Zulu Hats



A South African  Bus Trailer


They became smaller due to the evolution of South African transport law. Since the first half of the 20th century, rural and local transport had been provided exclusively by large government owned buses or 'bus trailers'. These bus-trailers were for the most part driven by white drivers who hauled their black passengers around. The configuration of the vehicles used is shown above. It physically separated blacks from whites.




Postcard depicting a Zulu woman wearing a smaller fabric hat, circa 1980.




The 'inside' story: Twenty three people and a goat pack into a South African minibus taxi.


From the early 1980's, all race groups in South Africa were allowed to apply for a transport license. At this point large Zulu hats fell out of fashion for practical reasons. With limited space, large hats were un-functional in minibus taxis.




                                                            Zulu Hat number 8742                                                                 Zulu Hat number 8643


Our smaller Zulu hats from this period are displayed with a black ring mount and  if preferred, easily removed.


Click Thumbnail for Larger Image

Ring Reverse


As with the larger human hair hats, the mounts were designed to please the eye from all directions.






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Mfengu Woman's Turban


Iqhiya - Ibhayi


Fingo Turban



The Mfengu are Nguni people, mostly of Bhele, Hlubi and Zizi origin, who fled during the early 19th century upheavals in Natal known as the Mfecane - Lifaqane or Difaqane. They arrived in what is today the Eastern Cape - where they were eventually suppressed by the local Xhosa chiefs. Their tribal name Ama-Fengu, Fingo or Mfengu,  means 'The Wanderers'  or 'Foreigners'. Mfengu speak what we call the Xhosa language, but do not consider themselves Xhosa. Their beaded tribal dress was adapted from the Xhosa, but remained with distinguishing factors. All over the region, a person's home area, ethnic sub group, age, marital status and sometimes the amount of children one had, could all be communicated through items of dress.




Mlanjeni's War - Eighth Frontier War - Circa 1851


In 1835 the Mfengu made representations to the Cape Colony government for land. Sir Benjamin d'Urban permitted them to settle on the banks of the Great Fish River - 'at the Xhosa's expense'. Their location created a buffer zone for the British to ward off further Xhosa invasions of the Cape Colony. Mfengu fought for the British in the Frontier Wars or  'Kaffer Wars' of 1835, 1846 and again between 1851 and  1853.





This is an Mfengu woman's turban called an Iqhiya or Ibhayi. It forms the body of a womans headdresses. These were worn to complement a woman's outfit. Sometimes a colourful Santulo is attached, to add volume to the headdress. Barbara Tyrrell's watercolour (below right) shows an Mfengu nursing mother with such a Turban.





                      Mfengu Headdress                                             Barbara Tyrrell - Mfengu (Fingo) Woman



 Click either image to enlarge.


Countless hours were spent embroidering three sides of the dark Melton cloth.





Mfengu - Xhosa Beaded Headband


'amadiliza entloko'





Large headbands were worn by young men of the Fingo and Xhosa groups living around East London.



Click either thumb to enlarge image.


Young men's headbands were called amadiliza entloko.






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BaSotho Hat - Sotho Hat - Ba Sotho Hat


South Africa - Lesotho





J R Ivy Album Collection - Basutoland


Sotho hats have been worn by Suto-Chuana - Setswana speakers for centuries.


Click Image for Larger Picture


Our example was rediscovered in the UK. Its age confirms it would have arrived there during the early 20th century. This style is commonly referred to as modianyeoe.



Meeting of Peter Wright and Mothibi -1835


Sotho hats predate colonial rule. This sketch records Peter Wright's visit to Dithakong in 1835 where he met the Tlhaping (Sotho-Tswana) chief Mothibi. Chief Mothibi is holding a staff - and wears a cape and Sotho hat. 



J R Ivy Album Collection - Basutoland - Circa 1940


Men wove the hats from plant fiber. Note the abstract shapes surmounting a completed hat placed on the ground to the hat makers left - (right side of the picture).


Click Thumbnails for Larger Pictures


Our example is mounted on a custom made stand. (right image)


Click Image for Larger Picture



European influence altered Sotho cap finals. Over time, the "crown" fashioned modianyeoe developed. It came to represent status and prestige - as well as displayed skilled talent.





      Duggan-Cronin - The Southern Basotho - Circa 1930           J R Ivy Album Collection - Basutoland - Circa 1940


Plate LIX of Duggan-Cronin's "The Bantu Tribes of South Africa - The Suto-Chuana Tribes" makes reference that the function of the hat was to deflect rain and that a persons blanket was drawn up around the neck in wet weather.












Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 


Central and Southern African Tribal Art


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African Adornment - African Axes - African Basketry - African Beadwork - African Beer Cups - African Beer Pots - Colonial Figures - African Containers - Contemporary African Art - African Costume - African Currency - African Dolls - African Figures - African Hair Combs - African Headdresses - African Wigs - African Headrests - African Neck Rests - African Masks - Masques Africains - African Meat Platters - African Milk Pails - Miscellaneous Objects African Musical Instruments - African Jewelry - African Jewellery - African Pipes - African Shields - African Snuff  Spoons - African Snuff Bottles - African Spoons - African Ladles - African Staffs - African Status Objects - African Stools - African Thrones - African Tobacco Bags - Central African Weapons - Southern African Weapons - North African Weapons - Other Weapons - Zulu Imbenge Pot Covers






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