African cultures are renowned for their diversity of hats and extravagant headwear. Although difficult to come by these days (and hence collectible), African headwear, including ornate hairstyles- often denote rank, status and cultural associations. Hair ornamentation is an important part of social standing in many traditional African cultures. The pastoralist nomads of East Africa braid their hair and use Red ochre to highlight the colour. Others wear ornate headwear fashioned from Ostrich feathers, lion mains and carefully collected human hair. In contrast, the forest dwelling people of Cameroon and Nigeria traditionally wore hats fashioned from woven dyed natural fibres or feathers which depicted class and social status.
Often masks are adorned with headdresses, the importance of head attire can be seen from carefully carved wooden combs- often depicting ornate decoration. Hairstyles, braids, beads and African headwear together tell a story about who a person is, where they come from, what their status is and oftentimes denotes their status and wealth within a community. From the feather "juju" hats of the Bamileke to the woven grass hats of the Congo and even the head-rests of East Africa- African hats, headwear and associated items of material culture reveal a diversity of styles and stories as varied as the people of the African continent.