Additions to the Head

Beaver Hat, produced in England. Early 19th Century. This beaver hat is inscribed to Nanna, chief or governor of Benin. Nanna was a trade lord along the lower Benin River in the early 19th century. PM
Basketry Hat, Southern Dan, Liberia. This hat has a crest of clipped feathers, a small seashell band, and arched sections on the sides lined with colored glass and brass beads. PM 29-76-50/H1169

In contrast to altering the hair, face, and bone, one can convey messages by placing objects on the head. Headdresses, hats, head covers, hair ornaments, and headrests demonstrate the energy and skill invested to convey messages via the head. These conspicuous additions to the head, in a variety of shapes and materials, attract viewers and deliver personal and social messages. Large headdresses on masked individuals augment impressions of power, whereas hats and head ornaments are more likely to reinforce personal identity.