Overall: 13.4 x 17.8 cm (5 1/4 x 7 in.)
Gift of W. A. Price 1921.1548
Headrests allowed Shona men to protect their elaborate braids. Placed under the neck or chin, frequent contact with hair and hairdressing products darkened its top. Tool marks show how it was smoothed only where the skin would make contact. Linked intimately to their owner, headrests often became burial goods or heirlooms. Recent research suggests Shona headrests symbolized women; small projections on the supports likely reference scarification marks worn by women of marrying age. As only mature men used headrests, it reinforces their female symbolism and women’s societal importance as wives.
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