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Prestige Cap

Accession Number

Prestige Cap


Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
cotton and dye

6 7/8 in x 8 11/16 in (17.5 cm x 22 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Meryl Pinsof-Platt

Subject matter
In the Cameroon Grassfields, hats and caps acted as signifiers of status. When all men covered their heads, most wore plain black caps. In the past, when slavery was in place, slaves were prohibited from wearing hats or caps. Titled or elite men wore more elaborated hats that varied in form and materials used. In addition to the shape of the hat denoting a man’s status in society, the materials used also contributed to the level of prestige represented in a hat.
This type of hat with burls and open circles, called ashetu, would have been worn on formal occasions. Some hats, including this one, are similar to hairstyles once popular in the Grassfields region. 

References Cited:
Homberger, L. 2008. Cameroon: Art and Kings. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World: Art and Artifacts from the Caroline and Marshall Mount Collection. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.
Pemberton, John III. 2008. African Beaded Art: Power and Adornment. Northampton, Mass.: Smith College Museum of Art.

Physical Description
This knitted or crocheted hat in a tall, cylindrical shape has concentric circles and checkerboard patterns decorating the top. The body of the hat is made of small open circles and short rod-like projections. 

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
social status
symbols of office or status

1 Related Resource

PAST - Adornment Pieces from the African Collection 
(Part of: FFW Lower Level Study Cases     )

& Author Notes

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