royal ceremonial jacket

Yoruba people
Creation date
wool, cotton, silk velvet, jute, raffia, glass and bugle beads
43 x 56 in. 47 x 62 3/4 in. (overall w/beads)
Credit line
Martha Delzell Memorial Fund
Accession number
Not Currently On View

This jacket is made of panels of imported velvet and wool adorned by beadwork. The pattern designs combine African and European symbolism and include medals, crowns, faux epaulettes, flowers, and faces of royal ancestors. The abstract beaded faces on royal garments are references to the ancestors of all Yoruba kings. The years 1929 and 1935 possibly commemorate the anniversary dates of the king’s reign. Oluwaniimolemi, which appears on the left side of the chest, is the Yoruba translation of The Lord Is My Light, which appears in English on the right side.

Among the Yoruba, beadwork is a royal prerogative associated closely with kingship. The wealthiest Yoruba kings retained families of bead specialists to embroider their royal garments.

Private collection, England. Acquired by English collector before 1955. Purchased by Eric Robertson, in 1979, New York {1}; (Robertson African Art, New York, New York); purchased by Indianapolis Museum of Art (September 15, 2005).
{1} Information obtained from IMA curatorial records.
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