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Treasure of the month

Chokwe wig

Women’s wiyembe headdress, imitation of a hairstyle

Ethnical origin : Chokwe
Geographical origin : Kasai, DRC
Material : Fibres, beads, cowries, brass
Dimensions : H.: 145 mm ; Diam.: 220 mm
Purchased from Mr. Rusmont in 1922
Registered in the RMCA as EO.0.0.26680

This wig is an imitation of a hairdo. It was worn by Chokwe women as a token of prestige and wealth. Chokwe were actively involved as suppliers and traders in the precolonial rubber and ivory trade. The glass beads and brass with which this wig is decorated were imported by Europeans and used as exchange valuables in the trade.

These wigs were worn among the Chokwe mainly by women, but also at times by older men. Among the Lunda they were worn rarely and only by important men as a sign of prestige. The wigs also decorate female masks among the Chokwe.

This wig headdres is published in Collections of the RMAC. Headdresses, 2006, p. 75, published for the temporary exhibition (20 December 2006 - 30 September 2007)

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