Kikumbu, Bwami Hat (Primary Title)
The two hats on the upper row represent the highest grade of Bwami. In the hat on the right, the polished mussel shells symbolize leadership, while its braided fibers, imitating a woman’s hairstyle, suggest the male wearer’s quasi-female status, by way of the comprehensive human understanding he has attained. Conversely, the hat with feathers and phallic shape, for the highest female grade of Bwami, denotes the quasi-male status of a woman whose wisdom and knowledge surpass gender.
Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.