The origins of the juju hat go back to the Bamileke culture and traditions of Cameroon. Juju hats, also known as Aka headdresses, have gone from being traditional ceremonial headdresses to being used to decorate beautiful homes. They have become trendy pieces used as contemporary wall decorations.
1. The history of juju hat
For hundreds of years, Bamileke tribes have created these hats for tribal chiefs, royal families and dignitaries who wear them during tribal ceremonies.
They are often worn with the elephant mask or Mbap Mteng (black and white image below) which denotes the power and wealth of those who wear them.
Hats are important when an elder dies, as they are passed on to the next person who may inherit the wealth and status of the deceased. Juju are also worn during festivities and ceremonial dances.
2. How are juju hat made?
Meticulously crafted by artisans in the western region of Cameroon, each hat is unique and requires 2 to 3 days of work.
These artisans have been making these hats for decades and are master weavers. The manufacturing is done during the dry season so that the wicker and feathers can dry before manufacturing.
The wicker base of the hats is delicately woven to create a solid support for the wooden slats that cover the sides.
Thus, a large circular platform is created for all dried and dyed feathers.
These feathers are then placed one by one to create the beautiful textured Juju hats in neutral or flamboyant colors.
The Juju hat folds on itself to be very easy to carry or to store. It requires special care due to its composition of natural elements. It is therefore important to buy it from specialized stores.
3. A trendy decorative accessory
Today, the Juju hat, although still originally used in Cameroon for ceremonial purposes, has become a wall decoration. Contemporary and colorful, they bring a touch of originality to homes, hotels, bars, restaurants and all types of interior spaces.
They are used by well-known interior designers for their clients, are seen on television and are published in decorating magazines. They are widely available for sale, however, authentic Bamileke juju hats are difficult to find. In quality of wicker, feather and type of paint used.
Finally, the Juju hat adds texture and color. Plus, it embodies that raw feeling of being wild and untamed. It sits dramatically on the wall in its abundance of shades and shapes. A true iconic piece by the designer.
So, do you dare the juju hat?
Read our article How to adopt the juju hat?