Turkana Headrest with leather handle, Ethiopia
H: 20,5 cm (8,1″) W: 21,5 cm (8,5”)
Dark brown patinated wood
This is an exceptionally beautiful headrest and a real prestige for the owner, who proudly has carried it in his belt. The color of the wood has a dark and warm glow and the leather strips are in a good and well-preserved condition.
Employing a mud and tallow mixture, the Turkana men spend a great deal of time sculpting their hair into elaborate and highly ornate styles and headrests such as this insure that their work is not undone by sleeping on the ground.
Hairstyles frequently declare their owner’s age, gender and status, and are often embellished by accoutrements of a magic-religious nature. Hairstyles therefore need protecting. For people who follow the herds during the day and wish to rest in the heat of the afternoon, they are also useful to lift the head off the earth.
Age: Est. about mid 20th Century.
Provenance: Private German Collection
Dewey William, J., “Sleeping Beauties – The Jerome Joss Collection of Headrests at UCLA”
Gunter Best, Marakwet & Turkana. New Perspectives on the Material Culture of East African Societies, Museum fur Volkerkunde, Frankfurt, 1993