A headdress or a hat can perch upon a head
The difference being that – the definition said -
A hat simply covers the pate
A headdress is elaborate.
Soon in the upper gallery for you to see
Head covers of the world — from sea to sea to sea.
I propose that we play a game
“Hat or Headdress” should be its name.
The rules are easy and perfectly subjective
You just decide from your very own perspective
Is it a hat or a headdress?
To which one is the answer, “Yes?”
When you have come to your conclusion, then you may
Investigate the object’s form, and need I say,
The country of its origin
Such knowledge I’m encouragin’.
Now it is example time. I’ll play the game
Of “Hat or Headdress.” I hope I am not too lame
As a new player sometimes is.
Oh my! My gosh! Golly! Gee whiz!
A mushroom form is what I found, with beads around
Its stem in shades of gold, red and brown it does abound.
Headdress I say. It is so grand,
And now I want to learn its land.
It’s from Malaysia, don’t you know, from Sarawak
On Borneo. This Land of Hornbills has no lack
Of lovely works of art to use
From beads, clay, cloth – even tattoos
Now who wears this mushroom cap I must discover
‘Cause this chapeau is more than just a head cover.
It goes upon a priestess’ head,
This striped top — brown and gold and red.
So onward now, let’s find a hat. That would be fun.
How about a straw hat that shields one from the sun?
The very thing for me to seek
Will be modest, yet oh so chic.
Eureka, as they say. Not one but two I find.
They’re from Japan where farmers wear hats of this kind.
One bonnet-like in shape with bow
And one with rakish brim just so.
Play “Hat or Headdress” starting at Mingei next week.
The exhibition is upstairs. Come take a peek.
See headgear from around the earth.
Of plain and fancy there’s no dearth.
A big, bark cloth mosquito mask hangs up above
Some beaded Indonesian hats that you might love
To pretend were upon your head.
Or how about a feather-ed
Headdress from the Amazon or helmet mask with
White cowries. And if you ask, there is not a pith
Helmet in sight, but there are, for
Your delight, three or four or more
Chinese baby hats to adore.
So now I quit. Just come be wowed.
Audible praise is sure allowed.
Come play the game that you will win.
That’s “Hat or Headdress” once ag’in.
Priestess’ Hat, 1950s
Indonesia, Sarawak, Bidayah
Mingei International Museum, The Bead Museum Collection, Gift of Lynneeta Darmody, 2011-69-521
Japanese straw hats:
Straw, plastic, fabric
Mingei International Museum, Gifts of Anita Brandow, 2011-61-4
Chinese baby hats:
Baby Hats, 20th century
China, Xian and Shanghai
Mingei International Museum, Gifts of Drs. James and Judith Kemp, 2005-51-124,131, 121, 122, 102, 136, 135, 139
Fire Dance Mask (vungvung):
Baining Culture, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea
Painted Mulberry tapa cloth, wood, bamboo, raffia, feathers, 160 in. (406.4 cm)
Mingei International Museum, Gift of Jeaninne and Richard Helmstetter, 1996-11-001
Photo courtesy of Mingei International Museum, Photo by Lynton Gardiner
Headdress, 20th century
Feathers, reed, pigment, cotton and fiber twine
Mingei International Museum, Gift of Susan Lerer, 2000-44-2
Kuba Culture; Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Glass beads, wicker, Kuba cloth, raffia, cowries, leather
23 in. (58.42 cm).
Mingei International Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George F. Wick 1991-28-001
Photo courtesy of Mingei International Museum, Photo by Lynton Gardiner.