Hunter's coat

Claws, teeth and leather amulets cover this heavy coat, worn during a hunting ceremony. The amulets are believed to protect Mali hunters as they chase dangerous prey. Each leather packet holds folded paper said to contain verses from the Qur’an. The knotted strings were spit on, and as such, carry “words” as additional protection.

Collection Connections 

  • Hunter's Shirt

    Hunter's Shirt

    West Africa, Mali

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  • Shaman's Apron

    Shaman's Apron

    Africa: West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire

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  • Initiation Shirt

    Initiation Shirt

    Africa: West Africa, Burkina Faso, Volta-Noire, Sourou, Kiembara

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Why do the round mirrors on this coat appear only on the front and the square mirrors only on the back?

responded: Apr 3, 2013

Posted by David

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Maybe the mirrors have something to do with the 'soul-washers disks' of the Asante tribes of West Africa. Beautiful men and women born on the same day of the week as the chief are selected to wear gold pectoral disks. They represent a 'tadee' or pool of water and are meant to cleanse the chief's spirit by reflecting the youth and vitality of his people. Some of these disks are rectangular in shape and worn by chiefs as well. For the Asante, gold represents the spirit of the sun or 'kra', so reflecting the sun's light with mirrors may be a way of channeling the spirit. I took a look at this jacket in the museum and noticed colourful pictures of flowers and holly on the backs of the mirrors. Do you think this was intentional or did the mirrors just come that way? I figure it would have been easy for the maker to scrape off the floral images and stick with the rest of the theme.

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