Tunic

images for Tunic
Object Name
ewu-ileke
Label Text
On special occasions the Yoruba king of Okuku wears this type of tunic as part of his regalia. Priests dedicated to Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder, wear similar beaded tunics. Its zigzag and triangular patterns might evoke the jagged path of lightning across the sky or perhaps refer to the Gabon viper, an emblem of power. The beaded faces, two on each side, suggest a confrontation with divine power.
Multicolored beaded tunic with rectangular opening for the head and wide opening for the arms. The front of the tunic is completely covered with glass beads. It is dominated by a central panel ornamented with two stylized faces separated by triangular and diamond beaded designs in alternating colors of red, tan, white and blue. Alternating diamond designs of red, black, green, white, pink, beige, blue and tan glass beads cover much of the front of the tunic. A beaded serpent design in red-brown, blue, aqua and beige glass beads runs the length of the proper right. A blue and off-white beaded serpent design runs down the lower half of the proper left. A beaded oval shape decorates the area of the front proper left shoulder. The back of the tunic is also completely covered with glass beads. One side is ornamented with three rows of small triangular designs, a wider panel of light and dark triangles, and diamond shapes interrupted by a yellow X-shaped pattern in a red color field. Large-format triangular beaded designs in predominantly reddish-brown, blue and black beads decorate the other side. Part of a beaded serpent [continued from the other side] appears in the lower part of the tunic. Large armholes are created by broad beaded side panels that are attached to the lower part of the front and back of the tunic. These side panels include triangles of worn velvet fabric, stitched circular patterns and triangular beaded designs. The interior of the tunic is lined in blue cotton fabric showing some minor staining around the neck opening; there is also a small hole along one side of the lining. A reddish-brown fabric, faded in some areas, is used as a decorative trim around the seams of the tunic.
The back of the tunic is also completely covered with glass beads. One side is ornamented with three rows of small triangular designs, a wider panel of light and dark triangles, and diamond shapes interrupted by a yellow X-shaped pattern in a red color field. Large-format triangular beaded designs in predominantly reddish-brown, blue and black beads decorate the other side. Part of a beaded serpent [continued from the other side] appears in the lower part of the tunic. Large armholes are created by broad beaded side panels that are attached to the lower part of the front and back of the tunic. These side panels include triangles of worn velvet fabric, stitched circular patterns and triangular beaded designs. The interior of the tunic is lined in blue cotton fabric showing some minor staining around the neck opening; there is also a small hole along one side of the lining. A reddish-brown fabric, faded in some areas, is used as a decorative trim around the seams of the tunic.
Provenance
Peter Lobarth, Hameln, Germany, ca. 1980s
Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels, -- to 1986
Private collection, United States, 1986 to 2002
Michael Oliver, New York, 2002 to 2003
Exhibition History
African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 20-December 9, 2012; Newark Museum, February 26-August 11, 2013; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 23-November 30, 2014; Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta, January 31-June 21, 2015
African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010-November 13, 2013 (deinstalled May 14, 2012)
African Beaded Art: Power and Adornment, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, February 1-June 15, 2008
Published References
Kreamer, Christine Mullen. 2012. African Cosmos: Stellar Arts. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; New York: Monacelli Press, pp. 114-115, no. 7.1.
Moffett, Dana and Stephen P. Mellor. 2003. The Curator-Conservator Collaboration: Remembering Roy Sieber." African Arts 36 (2), p. 55, no. 21.
Pemberton III, John. 2008. African Beaded Art: Power and Adornment. Northampton: Smith College Museum of Art, pp. 80-81, no. 31.
Topic
Leadership
Status
Adornment
turtle
snake
Male use
geometric motif
lizard
Power
Trade
National Museum of African Art
Baba Adesina
Yoruba artist
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Medium
Cotton, glass beads
Dimensions
H x W x D: 76.5 x 60 x 6.5 cm (30 1/8 x 23 5/8 x 2 9/16 in.)
See more items in
National Museum of African Art Collection
Geography
Okuku region, Nigeria
Early 20th century
Type
Costume and Textile
Object number
2003-8-1