Advanced Search

K-12 Educator
K-12 Student
Museum Visitor
UMMA Docent
UMMA Staff
University Faculty
University Student
Between and Mortarboard


UMMA Object Specific Fields






Query builder

Cabinet W: Shelf 1

The Head in African Art

The objects in this case suggest the wide range of contexts in which the human head plays a central role in African art. From the idealized representation of a human head on a Kuba drinking cup to the finely carved ivory handle of a Mangbetu knife, the head is both an important motif in the arts and a crucial locus of meaning in many African cultures. In sculptural representations, the head is often portrayed as the most important part of the human body, sometimes being disproportionately large relative to the size of the rest of the figure. Its importance is also reflected in the numerous practices that aim to alter, conceal, mark, or beautify the shape or appearance of the human head; such practices include masking, the use of head gear, scarification, tooth filing, ear piercing, the wearing of jewelry, and the knotting, braiding, shaving, or otherwise coiffing of the hair. The art of hairdressing—to create not only beautiful, but also meaningful styles—is widely practiced on the African continent; combs, sometimes featuring the upper body and head of a human figure, were one of the indispensable tools for this elaborate art form. In many parts of Africa head coverings, in the form of hats, helmets, and caps, are worn to publicly mark the ethnicity, status, or individual accomplishments of the wearer; a beautifully adorned Kuba cap, for example, was reserved only for rulers.

Malian
Helmet
gourd, cowrie shells, cloth, hair, leather
Gift of Prof. and Mrs. Horace M. Miner
1983/2.188
Dome-shaped cap with two elongated flaps symmetrically opposed on each side of the cap. There is a circular pattern on the top of the hat and the sides are decorated with geometric patterns resembling chevrons.
Kuba
Titleholder's hat
raffia fiber
6 7/8 in x 7 1/16 in x 7 1/16 in (17.5 cm x 18 cm x 18 cm);6 7/8 in x 7 1/16 in x 7 1/16 in (17.5 cm x 18 cm x 18 cm)
Gift of Marc Leo Felix, Brussels
Cap
1890 – 1920
glass beads and buttons
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

2000/2.102
Guro
Headband
leather, cowrie shells, cloth, wood
78 1/2 in x 7 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in (199.39 cm x 18.5 cm x 4.5 cm);78 1/2 in x 7 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in (199.39 cm x 18.5 cm x 4.5 cm)
Gift of Meryl Pinsof-Platt
A cone-shaped headdress with a cylindrical finial rising from its top. Three long flaps hang from three projections located near the top of the finial. The green field of the main body and finial is embroidered with cowrie shells arranged in a four-pointed rosette pattern. Cowries also appear on the round flat top of the finial where they radiate around a circle of alternating red and white beads. Cowries form a fringe around the lower border of the cap and are accompanied by brass bells along the edges of the flaps. The headdress is bordered at its lower edge and at the top and bottom of the finial with a checkerboard pattern in red and white beads between thin rows of alternating green and white beads. Five double rows of white beads form a chevron pattern on the wheat-colored field of the flaps.
Kuba
Royal Hat
cotton, wood, cowrie shells, glass beads, and brass bells
9 1/4 in x 5 7/8 in x 7 7/8 in (23.5 cm x 14.92 cm x 20 cm);9 1/4 in x 5 7/8 in x 7 7/8 in (23.5 cm x 14.92 cm x 20 cm)
Gift of Marc Leo Felix, Brussels
Baulé
Comb
20th century
wood and pigment
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis
1997/1.328
Mangbetu
Knife
1895 – 1905
iron, ivory, leather sheath
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
2005/1.233
This richly detailed, carved wooden cup has been sculpted into the form of a human head. The head’s bell-shaped coiffure and facial details are typical of Kuba masks and figurines. The face features almond-shaped eyes, a protruding mouth and nose, disproportionately small ears, and eyebrows and temples that have been engilded with tiny copper staples. The neck and the coiffure bear elaborate diamond-shaped and diagonal-lined patterns which have been further embellished by cowrie shells, embedded in resin.
Kuba
Cup
1885 – 1895
wood, copper, cowrie shells
Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern
2005/1.207

0 Comments

0 Tags & 0 Keywords

Tags

Part of 1 Learning Collection

Cabinet A: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet A: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet A: Shelf 3
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet B: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet B: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet B: Shelf 3
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet C: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet C: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet C: Shelf 3
<p>Inkwells </p>

Cabinet D: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Bohlen Wood Art Collection ...

Cabinet D: Shelf 2
<p>Inkwells </p>

Cabinet D: Shelf 3
<p>Inkwells </p>

Cabinet E: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the James Marshall Plumer Collec...

Cabinet E: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the James Marshall Plumer Collec...

Cabinet E: Shelf 3
<p>Selections from the James Marshall Plumer Collec...

Cabinet F: Shelf 1
<p>Mortuary Art from China </p>

Cabinet F: Shelf 2
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet F: Shelf 3
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet G: Shelf 1
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet G: Shelf 2
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet G: Shelf 3 
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet H: Shelf 1
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet H: Shelf 2
<p>Mortuary Art from China </p>

Cabinet H: Shelf 3
<p>Mortuary Art from China</p>

Cabinet I: Shelf 1
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet I: Shelf 2
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet I: Shelf 3
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet J: Shelf 1
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet J: Shelf 2
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet J: Shelf 3
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet K: Shelf 1
<p>Religious Sculpture from India</p>

Cabinet K: Shelf 2
<p>Religious Sculpture from India</p>

Cabinet K: Shelf 3
<p>Art of Islam</p>

Cabinet L: Shelf 1
<p>Blue-and-White Porcelain and Stoneware</p>

Cabinet L: Shelf 2
<p>Blue-and-White Porcelain and Stoneware</p>

Cabinet L: Shelf 3
<p>Blue-and-White Porcelain and Stoneware</p>

Cabinet M: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Dora and William Hunter Coll...

Cabinet M: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Dora and William Hunter Coll...

Cabinet M: Shelf 3
<p>Blue-and-White Porcelain and Stoneware</p>

Cabinet N: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Margaret Watson Parker Colle...

Cabinet N: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Margaret Watson Parker Colle...

Cabinet N: Shelf 3
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet O: Shelf 1
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet O: Shelf 2
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet O: Shelf 3
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet P: Shelf 1
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet P: Shelf 2
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet P: Shelf 3
<p>Celadon Wares in Asia</p>

Cabinet Q: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Ellen and Richard Laing Coll...

Cabinet Q: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Ellen and Richard Laing Coll...

Cabinet Q: Shelf 3
<p>Selections from the Ellen and Richard Laing Coll...

Cabinet Q: Shelf 4
<p>American Plaster Casts</p>

Cabinet R: Shelf 1
<p>American Plaster Casts</p>

Cabinet R: Shelf 2
<p>Apostle Spoons and American Silver</p>

Cabinet R: Shelf 3
<p>Modernist Glass and American Art Pottery</p>

Cabinet R: Shelf 4
<p>American Plaster Casts</p>

Cabinet S: Shelf 1
<p>American Silver</p>

Cabinet S: Shelf 2
<p>Tiffany Glass</p>

Cabinet S: Shelf 3
<p>American Silver</p>

Cabinet T: Shelf 1
<p>American Art Pottery</p>

Cabinet T: Shelf 2
<p>American Art Pottery</p>

Cabinet T: Shelf 3
<p>Native American Art</p>

Cabinet U: Shelf 1
<p>American Art Pottery</p>

Cabinet U: Shelf 2
<p>American Art Pottery</p>

Cabinet U: Shelf 3
<p>Native American Art</p>

Cabinet V: Shelf 1
<p>The Human Figure in African Art</p>

Cabinet V: Shelf 2
<p>African Miniature Masks</p>

Cabinet V: Shelf 3
<p>African Masks and Masquerades</p>

Cabinet W: Shelf 1
<p>The Head in African Art</p>

Cabinet W: Shelf 2
<p>Selections from the Helmut Stern Collection</p>

Cabinet W: Shelf 3
<p>Selections from the Helmut Stern Collection</p>

Cabinet W: Shelf 4
<p>African Masks and Masquerades</p>

Cabinet X: Shelf 1
<p>Modern Sculpture</p>

Cabinet X: Shelf 2
<p>Modern Sculpture</p>

Cabinet X: Shelf 3
<p>Modern Sculpture</p>

Cabinet X: Shelf 4
<p>Modern Sculpture</p>

Cabinet Y: Shelf 1
<p>Selections from the Fusfeld Art Collection</p>

Cabinet Y: Shelf 2
<p>Contemporary Art</p>

Cabinet Y: Shelf 3
<p>Contemporary Art</p>

Cabinet Y: Shelf 4
<p>Contemporary Art</p>

8 Collection Object Sources

Helmet (1983/2.188)
Cap (2000/2.102)
Headband (1983/1.99)
Royal Hat (1982/2.76)
Comb (1997/1.328)
Knife (2005/1.233)
Cup (2005/1.207)

Rate this Resource

AVG: 0 | Ratings: 0

& Author Notes

Creative Commons by-nc-sa

Last Updated

June 8, 2020 2:40 p.m.

Report


Reporting Policy