Crown, Yoruba peoples, Ekiti region, Ikere, Nigeria, Early 20th century, Glass beads, cloth, plant fiber, iron
A beaded crown with veil is the defining symbol of divine kingship among the Yoruba and holds the combined powers of the living king and the ancestors. The crown's material, form, pattern and color all proclaim the king's sacred power and authority. The frontal face represents Oduduwa, the divine founder and first king of Ile-Ife, the sacred first city of the Yoruba.
The birds refer to dangerous spiritual powers and the king's ability to control them. The chameleon, which in the creation myths of the Yoruba is said to have preceded man to the newly formed earth, symbolizes change and is all seeing. Highly unusual and hard to define are the large, three-dimensional human figures.