Beads, leather, canvas, and wicker
The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund
- Review the story of Oduduwa.
What aspects of the story do you see on the crown?
The face may represent a king's ancestor or Oduduwa himself.
Does knowing the story of Oduduwa help you to understand what you
see on the crown? What questions do you have about the crown's appearance that weren't answered by the story?
- What is this crown made of?
Make a shopping list of all the bead colors you would need to make this crown. Look carefully at the
of the King's crown. If you could touch it, how would it feel? Smooth? Rough? Soft? Bumpy?
The beads that were applied to the surface of the crown are of uniform shape, size, and
yet the artist used the beads to define different objects and features on the crown.
Roll over the image to see more specific attributes from the King's Crown
Where has the artist varied the direction of the rows of beads to define objects or features?
The black outline around the yellow face, lips, and eyes; birds' eyes are circular against vertical rows of beads on the bird heads;
connecting rows of beads on the fringe to form a diagonal pattern where the veil would cover the king's face.
Where has the artist used color to define objects and features on the crown?
Lips and eyes. Entire face is a different color from the background. Birds are defined by red beaks and white and black eyes. Bands
of yellow beads outline some of the wings.
Some beaded parts of the crown are raised slightly to help define features.
Where are they?
Eyes, nose, and lips on the face.
- The Yoruba king's crown identifies the wearer as a king and gives him special powers to interact with the spirit world for the benefit
of his people.
Can you think of special headgear that people wear today that identify their role or status in the community?
Some examples: police hats, fire fighters' helmets, graduation caps, military hats, bridal veils, chef's hats, bishop's miters,
yarmulkes, any other religious head wear.
- Bring in pictures of some other examples of courtly attire from a variety of cultures.
Why do you think rulers or important people in various cultures wear this kind of REGALIA?
So that people can identify them, to follow tradition, to appear wealthy and powerful, to link them with rulers of the past.
Do rulers or important people dress this way every day? On what occasions do they wear their full regalia? When you dress up for special
occasions, what does your outfit tell people about you?
- The birds on the crown represent a group of wise elder women. They are
of the king's ability to deal with the forces of evil.
Why might the birds be placed on the king's crown as opposed to other parts of the king's REGALIA?
A Yoruba king uses the wisdom of these elder women to benefit his people. The symbols of the elders appear to surround the king's head,
an advantageous location for imparting wisdom. Birds on the king's crown are easy for his subjects to see. The king's crown is the most
sacred and powerful of all royal Yoruba objects and so is an honored location reserved for symbols of the other powerful members of the
- Some people think objects like this king's crown should be kept in museums for everyone to learn from and enjoy, even though they
were never intended to be displayed that way. Others think that objects like these are treasures of the cultures they came from and
should be returned.
What do you think? Explain your answer.
No right answer.