Diviners headdress (nkaka)

Tabwa peoples
mid–20th century
more object details

General Description

Both male and female diviners among the Tabwa peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo wear beaded headdresses with feathers projecting from the top and sides. The colorful bead-embroidered pattern of opposing isosceles triangles draws attention to the diviner's head, which, according to the Tabwa and many other African peoples, is the site of an individual's intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and clairvoyance. The central triangle motif is called "the eye of Kibawa," a spirit who controls the domain of the head. The juxtaposed triangles on either side are said to represent his wives. During the divination ritual, these spirits possess the diviner and empower him or her to heal the client.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, African Headwear: Beyond Fashion (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 2011).

Web Resources