Headrest (mutsago)

Tsonga or Nguni peoples

Not on view

The earliest headrests preserved in museum collections are those created in ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, ca 2030 B.C. A remarkable diversity of styles of related forms were developed by different cultural groups across southern Africa. Nguni sculptors from present-day South Africa are especially recognized for the inventiveness of their headrest designs. This bold yet simple interpretation elegantly balances a horizontal surface that spans three carefully spaced sets of circular discs emblazoned with dense graphic motifs.

Headrest (mutsago), Wood, Tsonga or Nguni peoples

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