Changes to the Head

Brass figures of woman and child, Dan, Liberia. Only chiefs and rich men could afford brass figures like these, which were displayed to impress visitors and passing dignitaries. PM 29-76-50/H1006
Crest mask showing male acrobats and a female figure, Yoruba carver, Nigeria. This mask would have evoked ancestral spirits and death. 975-12-50/11800

There are many ways in which Africans change their appearance by altering features of the head: styling the hair, disguising the face, and reshaping the bone structure of the skull. Sculptures in this section illustrate these changes. 

According to African testimony, these changes create deliberately constructed images that serve personal and community interests. The appearance of individuals and the adornments they choose form a visual rhetoric by which individuals may either promote or resist changes in style.