Beaded Coronet

Accession Number

Beaded Coronet


Artist Nationality
Yoruba (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
cloth, glass beads, metallic beads, and feathers

9 13/16 in x 9 7/16 in x 10 7/16 in (24.92 cm x 23.97 cm x 26.51 cm);9 13/16 in x 9 7/16 in x 10 7/16 in (24.92 cm x 23.97 cm x 26.51 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This coronet is a Yoruba ruler’s everyday headgear. Because a ruler’s source of political authority and identity resides in his inner, “spiritual” head, his visible head must be covered at all times.
In the nineteenth century, European seed-beads became incorporated into Yoruba regalia and broadened the range of colors used. This coronet’s design also testifies to the connection between Yorùbáland and Europe: its appearance recalls jewel-encrusted imperial crowns worn by English royalty. The contrasting colors and textural shifts on this coronet express Yoruba aesthetics of character and beauty. The combination of yellow and green represents tranquility and restraint. Thickly beaded strips radiate from a red perch upon which sits a gold-winged egret, keeper of culture and leader of all birds.

Subject matter
As the ori inu—inner head—of an oba—sacred king—possessed great power, his physical head (ori ode) needed to stay covered. Part of the beaded regalia that came about with the arrival of colonialism was a form of headgear known as oríkògbòfó, meaning “the head must not be bare”. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, oba did not leave the palace except for important ritual events. But with the need to meet with other oba and foreigners, oba began wearing such caps or coronets in various forms. Oríkògbòfó in the form of British crowns were a common design, which developed at the beginning of the 20th century, especially during the period of British colonial control. Birds were also a common feature in an oba’s beaded regalia, which referred to okin, known as the “king of birds” as well as the mystical power of women, known as awon iya wa, “our mothers”.

Pemberton, African Beaded Art: Power and Adornment, 2008
Lawal, Visions of Africa: Yoruba, 2012
Drewal, Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought, 1989

Physical Description
Round beaded crown with six radiating bands—predominantly green with white, metallic and blue accents—that stem from the central axis upon which a large blue-headed bird sits. Eight smaller birds perch at the base of the bands. The bottom rim is predominantly red with white, metallic, and blue accents. The spaces in between the vertical bands are filled with yellow feathers. 

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
costume accessories
kings (people)
royalty (nobility)
symbols of office or status

& Author Notes

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