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Nature as a source of creativity

Cowrie shells

In nature, man finds a wealth of materials that can be used creatively for the manufacture of headdresses. Each area has its special materials. The headgear helps identify the cultural and social group to which one belongs. The inhabitants of the Pacific islands are masters of the processing of turtle shells and armor.

The beauty of the locally available natural materials encouraged artisans to use great creativity and technical skills to transform feathers, seeds, leaves, flowers, teeth, iron and shells into hats, headbands and / or crowns. Headdresses can be made of textile or organic materials such as skins and decorated with feathers, shells, beads, see also the story of the bead or precious gems. In some regions cotton predominates, leather does so in pastoral communities, horns and plumes in other, specific social environments. Wooded areas offer a wealth of plant materials such as colorful bird feathers.

Jewelry made of teeth and nails is perhaps the oldest form of decoration in existence. Canines and tusks in particular were scarce and therefore valuable. As a status object, this type of jewelry played a role in marriage negotiations. Plants and trees also provide a wealth of materials: tree bark, seeds, leaves, bamboo, etc. With plant fibers you can apply textile techniques such as weaving, braiding and knotting.

Beads were made from marine and land animal materials. They were taken by explorers and traders and were a sought-after commodity. What was initially a means of exchange and payment has become indispensable in many parts of the world. Beads are important to women. Wearing a lot of necklaces is a measure of the attractiveness of marriageable girls. The Zulu and Masai women wear this jewelry around their heads.

Materials are subtly associated: leather and cotton mix with cowrie shells, pearls in glass paste and a multitude of pendants, where the shapes and colors of each element have a precarious meaning. The variety and richness of the materials used are matched only by the complexity of their use: simply utilitarian, symbolic or reflective of identity.

During the workshops organized by the Kalpak, local materials are also used to decorate the headgear. These vary from shells, beads, buttons, ribbons, feathers from the thrift shops. The workshop starts with stories about rituals among different peoples, about 30 ethnic hats are discussed with great attention to materials and the aesthetic. Then the hats are decorated, followed by a fashion show.

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