possibly early 1900s
Plant fiber, rawhide or leather, glass beads, seashells, cowrie shells, cloth, and colorant
Overall: 139.5 cm (54 15/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1994.87
Cowry shells, a type of currency used in the Kuba Kingdom in Central Africa, decorate this belt made for a king. The intricate patterns and colors of the beads indicate the high status of the wearer as well as the wealth of his kingdom.
Attributed to Kuba peoples of southeast Democratic Republic of Congo, this prestige belt boasts superb craftsmanship. The accumulation of a variety of materials indicates the high status of its wearer. It is made from leather strips and finely accessorized with a combination of intricately patterned bead designs, cowries, seashells, and bells. It would have been worn over a large raffia skirt by a man during ceremonial occasions. It was acquired from the Belgian dealer Jacques Hautelet in 1994.
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