Project Description

Yoruba Beaded Crowns


Today most Yoruba people live in Nigeria and some in Benin. In historic times the Yoruba territories consisted of several city states, urban centers centered around their own Royal Court. For centuries it was a large empire in Africa and had relative stability up till the 1830’s

Before the 19th century the crown was worn by the divine kings of Yorubaland, but little is known in what form it was in.  It has been established that by the 15th century the classic elements of the modern crowns  – frontal faces under birds – began to form.

Beaded crowns were probably first made their appearance in the early 19th century.  The bead work inspired a flourishing new art form among the Yoruba.

The beaded birds on the crowns have significance, gatherings of birds often appear in Yoruban art, the association between birds and the power of crafty elderly women is was a common belief. I was thought that the women had power to turn into birds and create all kinds of havoc, threatening and killing people. The placement of the birds on the crown suggest that the kings can rule only with the protection and help of the ‘Mothers’.