mid- to late 1800s
Wood, glass beads, and natural fibers
Overall: 13.3 x 8 x 1.4 cm (5 1/4 x 3 1/8 x 9/16 in.)
The Harold T. Clark Educational Extension Fund 1915.453
Chokwe men and women both wore decorative hair combs; the double birds on this one are the long-beaked ngungu, a kind of hornbill linked to hunting and the related power of leaders.
Chokwe women inserted finely decorated combs and pins in their hair to signal rank and wealth. Here, as among neighboring peoples, coiffures reveal regional and temporal fashions and trends. Certain styles are exclusive to chiefs and other dignitaries. In addition to being a sign of beauty and good health, a well-groomed hairdo also suggests that the wearer relies on the help of others in its creation.
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