Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Yoruba Royal Crown in Shape of Barrister’s Wig

Catalog Number: D051


7.88" x 8.14" x 23.00"

200.19 mm x 206.85 mm x 58.50 mm

Religion and Denomination: Yoruba indigenous religion (Yoruba)
Transatlantic Family of Religion: Orisha
Country of Origin: Nigeria
Ethnographic Origin: Yoruba
Materials: Glass
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

Crowns like this one are called adé ṣẹṣẹẹfun. Adé means crown, and ṣẹṣẹẹfun refers to the style of beading using white beads. All crowns made from white beads are called by this name, although they come in many shapes and sizes.

This shape is interesting in that it is modeled on British-style wigs worn by lawyers in Nigeria. It is not an ancient design, but was created after contact with European powers.

The cone and three knots on top of the crown symbolize ashẹ, a Yoruba term associated with mystical power and worldly authority. The cone is hollow and is filled with a sacred object or substance and then sealed with a beaded cap.

The king is not aware of what this object or substance is, and he never puts the crown on himself.  It is applied by other officials, suggesting that the monarch’s power is not autonomous; it is conferred by the community on behalf of the gods. 

There are two families who have responsibility for the crowns. One creates them, and the other both inserts the sacred object or substance and takes care of the crown.