Headrest, 19th–20th century
South Africa or Swaziland; Swazi, Zulu, or Nguni peoples
5 1/2 x 23 7/8 x 4 in. (14 x 60.6 x 10.2 cm)
Gift of John B. Elliott through the Mercer Trust, 2000 (2000.160.53a,b)
Headrests have been used to protect elaborate coiffures that can relay the status, gender, and age of the wearer. The designs developed by regional carvers are remarkably diverse in both form and style. This example is distinctive for its elegant form and the fact that it features a storage compartment for the owner's valuables.