Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB

Prestige Hat

The Grasslands of western Cameroon is a region known for its diversity. Even the hat, a ubiquitous element of attire, makes this point very clearly: historically, throughout the area, free men were expected to cover their heads, and, as a result, an astonishing variety of everyday and ceremonial head coverings were created. While common men might wear plain, unornamented hats, more exalted men, and sometimes women, turned to elaborate headgear as indicators of status and position, with decoration ranging from colorful stripes and embroidered and appliquéd patterns to added materials, such as beads, seeds, quills, elephant tail-hair, and coins. This hat is from a collection of over seventy, primarily from West and Central Africa, given to the museum by Budd Stalnaker (1937–2006), who was a fiber artist and professor emeritus in Indiana University’s Hope School of Fine Arts.

Grasslands, Cameroon
Prestige Hat
20th century
Cotton fiber, wood
Diam. 7 ¾ in. (19.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Gift of Budd Stalnaker in honor of William and Diane Itter, 2004.27