This headrest is a message of love. A young Turkana man would offer an object like this to a woman as a way of proposing. The Turkana are located in northern Kenya, they are a pastoralist group living in a hostile society. During the courtship period, the young man would carve the headrest from softwood. Then keep it for at least three months while looking for a girl. Once he has found her, he would send male elders from his clan to the girl’s father with the headrest as a token of his proposal. The girl will be called by her mother and the headrest will be presented to her in the presence of elders from both families.
The shape of this headrest has no special meaning other than as a material signifier of a marriage proposal. The curve in the center of the column is designed for easy handling. The headrest has a texture peculiar to the Turkana, it has a brownish patina and signs of old age and usage.
|Dimensions||11 × 14 × 18.2 cm|