Hat in the form of a wig (sawamazembe)

Lega peoples
20th century
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General Description

The highest-ranking male members of the Bwami association wear the sawamazembe, a hat reminiscent of a woman's plaited hairstyle. The white shell at the center of the hat symbolizes a crescent moon and draws attention to the wearer's status. Wives of these members, who are the highest-ranking female members, wear the muzombolo, which has a phallic shape. When paired in the performance of Bwami rituals, these headdresses visually stress the importance of mutual support for the good of the community.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.