This is an A-shaped headrest from the Turkana, an ethnic group of agro-pastoral herders living mainly in northern Kenya. Headrests appear like simple pieces of craftmanship but they are of aesthetic value. They possess significance value and they have artistic status, they mean more than just mere objects. These pillow-like objects are some of the most distinctive East African articrafts. Headrests symbolized high social status or magical power such as the gift of foretelling. Headrests are also traditionally believed to protect elaborated headdresses, headrests are no longer a feature of modern life in this region.
This fine headrest is a result of hard work and skill with its superb vertical A-shape. It is also known as a tied headrest because it is gradually tightened with a piece of leather to prevent the legs from splitting until the desired shape is obtained. It was carved in a single piece of wood, decorated with iron spots on the sides and could only be owned by an elder aged over 50 years. Such pieces were also paid as dowry by a groom to his bride’s family as a demonstration of respect. This piece could also be inherited by only a man, possibly a brother or elder son of the deceased. Its design is similar to those of Pokot and Karamajong as a result of intermingling. It has brown wonderful patina, clear signs of usage and old age.
Material: Hardwood, leather
|Dimensions||8 × 15.8 × 19 cm|