Accession Number



Object Creation Date
circa 1890-1920

Medium & Support
brass, glass beads, string, and cloth

18 1/2 in x 12 5/8 in x 1 3/16 in (46.99 cm x 32.07 cm x 3.02 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
This object listed as made by Kirdi peoples, while most likely correct, is not without issue. “Kirdi”, meaning pagan, was the label given to the various peoples from northern Cameroon, northeastern Nigeria, and southern Chad by neighboring Fulani and Kanuri peoples because they did not practice Islam, while the latter do. The people collectively known as “Kirdi” are actually many different cultural groups with their own customs. However, due to a lack of information on where exactly this object came from, it is not possible to say with certainty which group of people created it.
Belts were worn by Kirdi girls and women on special and ceremonial occasions. Around the age of six or seven young girls began wearing a leather belt with two straps, sometimes with a second string belt, where four string panels would hang down in front and one in back. At a marriageable age, young women wore beaded aprons to indicate their eligibility for marriage. In addition to aprons, belts of brass rings, beads, or pendants were also worn, as more objects displayed a woman’s wealth and status. Various designs and styles referred to a woman’s cultural group, marital status, and age. When Cameroon gained independence in 1961, the government issued regulations requiring that women be fully dressed. In some areas, these aprons are still used, but no longer made. This object could have possibly been a necklace as similar objects have been described as necklaces, but it is not known for certain.

References Cited:
Gebauer, Paul. 1979. Art of Cameroon. Portland, Or.: Portland Art Museum.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1961. Les populations païennes du Nord-Cameroun et de l'Adamaoua. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Lembezat, Bertrand. 1952. Mukulehe; un clan montagnard du Nord-Cameroun; coutumes, rites, croyances. Paris: Berger-Levrault.
Northern, Tamara. 1984. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
Page, Donna. 2007. A Cameroon World. New York: QCC Art Gallery Press.

Physical Description
Belt with blue glass beads and brass pendants. Three pendants are in the form of crotal bells while the rest are in the form of spikes. 

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 for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceremonial costume
social status
symbols of office or status
women (female humans)

& Author Notes

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