An African Western Cameroon Grasslands Kaka Chiefs Hat the Woven Palm Fibre Cap with Projecting Porcupine Quills
First Half 20th Century
Size: approx: 50cm long, 24cm dia. – 19¾ ins long, 9½ ins dia.
See: Finch & Co catalogue no. 19, item no. 6, for a similar example
In African art wild animals are depicted much more frequently than domesticated ones. It is not the animals that are usually associated in the minds of western Europeans with Africa such as zebras, giraffes, lions and cheetahs that are represented, but those more remarkable for how they behave and look. Aardvarks, chameleons, crocodiles, hyenas, hornbills, pangolins and porcupines are all exceptional in their appearance and provide the most useful symbolic expressions of human situations and ritual ceremonies. This ornate cap imitates the elaborate ornamental hairstyles once worn by the men in the Cameroon’s, with porcupine quills embellishing the projecting knitted palm fibre burls. It probably denoted high social status and was worn on ceremonial occasions.