X92.160 Beaded shoes

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Beaded shoes
Yoruba peoples
Leather, rawhide, burlap, cloth, beads, thread
H: 9.0 cm, L: 27.5 cm, W: 12.0 cm (H: 3.5 in, L: 10.8 in, W: 4.7 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. James Strain. X92.160


Prototypic European crowns adapted from British coasts of arms encircle the surface. Their position is upright when viewed by the royal wearer, their triangular summits pointing to the front of the shoe. The Yoruba text inscribed on the crowns reads yeala, alaye, a prayer to God as the owner of the world. The head on the top of the shoe faces forward and has a zigzag pattern on its forehead. Like similar faces with forehead diamonds on other royal regalia (such as those on foot cushions), these marks are probably oblique references to the prepared heads of rulers, sanctified and strengthened during their enthronement rites.

Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 219