Birds of a Feather: Plumed Headdresses from Around the World

Detail of Feathered Headdress, 20th Century Kayapo Mebêngôkre culture; Xingu River area, Para, Brazil Macaw and waterfowl feather, string and cotton; 68 x 57 in. 91.34.1.1-.2 Bowers Museum Acquisitions Fund Purchase As the Crow Flies, Not So Far Bird feathers are surprisingly intricate structures: leaflike in nature with a rigid or semi-rigid midri...
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Five Faces of the Moon

Composite image of the moon and objects in this post. One Giant Leap On July 20, 1969 three humans boarded an aluminum and stainless-steel rocket, rose into the heavens and collectively became the first group to set foot on another celestial body. Taking his first apprehensive steps on the alien scape of the moon, Neil Armstrong famously said “that...
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Bamana Ciwarakunw: Icons of Agrarian Society

Headdress ( Ciwarakun ), 20th Century Bamana culture; Western Mali Wood and metal; 11 × 17 5/8 × 3 in. 2018.13.28 Gift of Anne and Long Shung Shih On Demigods and Farmers Agrarian cultures often have myths about the origin of their farming practices. As the primary source of subsistence for these groups, farming is a lifeline that everything else g...
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Seat of Power: Prestige Chairs of the Chokwe

Chair ( Ngundja ), early 20th to mid Century Chokwe culture; Angola Wood, metal and leather; 19 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 13 in. 2007.4.55 Gift of the Roschen Family Trust Have a Seat Driving to and from work, sitting at a desk, relaxing on the couch—we spend much of our time sitting down without paying too much attention to what we are sitting in. But as thr...
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Manilla Portfolio: West African Worn Currency

Manillas, 19th Century Unknown Manufacturer; probably Birmingham, England Leaded brass; Various Dimensions 2003.43.72-.79 Anonymous Gift Who wants to be a Manillionaire? Some might like to make a grand show of wealth, but along the cost of West Africa, one could literally wear their net worth on their sleeve up until the mid 20th Century. At least ...
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These Are Not the Sculptures You’re Looking For

Ancestor Figure, 20th Century Sukuma culture; Tanzania Wood, metal and hair; 63 in. 2002.58.1 Gift of Heather Sacre May the Fourth… In an annual celebration of culture, science fiction, and a beloved galaxy not too near to here, the Bowers Blog once again uses May the Fourth to take the hyperspace plunge. Last year we featured a miniature made from...
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Marvel of Design: Sources for Costume Design in Black Panther

Gold Ear Ornaments ( Kwottenai ), 20th Century Fulani culture; Mali Gold and yarn; 9 x 8 1/2 in. 97.13.1.1-.2 Gift of Bowers Museum Collector's Council Wakanda Forever Marvel Studios’ newly released Black Panther (2018)—a film about T’Challa, the superhero monarch of the fictional African nation of Wakanda—features an incredible fusion of tradition...
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Swiss Army Pillows: Headrests of Eastern Africa

Headrest, 20th Century Karamojong culture; Uganda Wood; 7 5/8 x 6 ¼ x 5 7/8 2017.11.31 Gift of Anne and Long Shung Shih   Sleep Like a Log Sleep is one of those fundamental human needs all peoples of the world unconsciously share in, but the trappings of sleep outside of beds, pillows, sheets, blankets, and duvets are rarely covered. Up until ...
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Hefty Sum: Central African Throwing Knife Currency

Throwing Knife, 19 th Century Kapsiki culture; Cameroon or Nigeria Iron, rubber and cloth; 24 1/8 x 5 3/8 in. 2003.43.91 Anonymous Gift Throwing Knife ( ngwolo ), 19 th Century Ngombe culture; Democratic Republic of the Congo Iron, wood; 19 3/8 x 12 1/2 in. 2003.43.92 Anonymous Gift Throwing Knife ( sengese ), 19 th Century Mafa culture; Cameroon o...
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Up to Snuff: Smokeless Tobacco Bottles from Around the World

Scrimshaw Snuff Box, c. 1870 United States Sperm whale ivory, silver and ink 2011.25.18 Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Burton W. Fink Snuff Bottle, date unknown Kenya Wood, metal and horn 2013.7.9 Gift of Doris L. Buck Snuff Bottle, late 20 th Century Japan Antler 97.11.2 Gift of Dr. Murray and Brett Via Around the World At the height of its popularity, snuf...
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House of the Head

Orí, the Head Orí , the Yoruba word for head is also the complicated god of the head and destiny in the Yoruban pantheon. In the traditional Yoruba religion of southwest Nigeria, Benin, and Togo, before one is born they stand before a wall of potential destinies and choose their own ìbòrí , which directly translates to ‘inner head’ but as with Orí ...
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Weaving History: Kente Cloth and Naming Conventions in Ghana

Wrap-Around Garment ( Kente ), early to mid 20th Century Akan or Ewe culture; Ghana Cotton and silk; 66 1/2 × 105 in. 2016.15.30 Anonymous Gift Like words composing complex thoughts, the colors and patterns of Ghana’s kente cloth work together to symbolize intricate ideas. The vibrantly-colored fabric not only tells of Ghana’s history; these textil...
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