Helmet –Naga peopleIndia
Worn during ritual events or battles with enemy villages, helmets and their decorative elements expressed the prestige of their wearers and deeds performed.
Men's royal headdress – Yoruba peopleNigeria
Decorated with a fringe of pearls, this prestigious headdress masks the inner identity of the king and protects his subjects from the supernatural power of his gaze.
Headdress-hat – Kayapo peopleBrazil
Among Brazil's Kayapo Indians, individuals, depending on their origins, have the privilege of wearing certain feathers, in particular during rituals.
Phoenix tiara – Miao peopleChina
This tiara with meaningful decorations, such as representations of a phoenix, lyrebirds, flowers and leaves, is intended to protect the head of the future bride from evil forces.
Headdresses from around the World
Antoine de Galbert’s donation
"As I contemplate my collection of headdresses, I get an exhilarating feeling of travelling around the world, like a journey without moving, or an inner, mental adventure like those one sometimes has lying in bed. This collection reflects a certain form of romanticism, fed by reading accounts written by great travellers…" Antoine de Galbert
For more than 20 years, Antoine de Galbert built a collection of more than 500 headdresses from outside of Europe. Given to the Musée des Confluences in 2017, these objects are windows onto an amazing cultural diversity.
In the museum's largest room, the exhibition invites you to freely explore, like a stroll through a garden, around twenty or so tables that group the headdresses together by theme, such as feathers of the Amazon, wedding headdresses and symbols of power, in order to understand their uses.
Discover the 13 exhibition trail
Discover the 13 exhibition trail13
From hair to headdresses
Some headdresses hide hair, while others show it off, and others still replace it or use it as a raw material that carries meaning…
Physical and symbolic protection
As a companion in daily life, headdresses protect the head from the sun and bad weather. They often do this with elegance, using materials such as woven fibres, wood or scales.
The headdress as a flag
At markets, or during seasonal festivals or ceremonies, people proudly wear headdresses to signal their clan or ethnic belonging.
Objects of communication
Headdresses make it possible to immediately identify the places of individuals in society and assign their roles. They are essential for the social organisation of a population.
Feathers in the Amazon – a colourful language
Several Amazonian founding myths draw a parallel between the feathers that differentiate birds and those that are used to distinguish humans from one another. Each ethnic group has its own attire, which comes in a multitude of variations thanks to the great variety of feathers available.
Objects of power
Made with rare and expensive materials, and decorated with patterns holding supernatural power, headdresses belonging to those in power establish a link with invisible forces.
Promoting the warrior spirit
During battles, or when hunting, helmets serve as much to protect warriors as they do to promote the exploits that make them accomplished men.
The African passion for headpieces
Before colonisation, all-powerful African monarchs cultivated an extraordinary art of ceremony.
Touching gods and spirits
The diversity of headdresses reflects that of human beliefs. From Buddhist monks to shamans, headpieces imbued with magical or religious power are an integral part of rituals.
Revealing the invisible
In many societies, headdresses take the form of masks representing a spiritual entity from the world of the spirits or the dead.
Marking the passing of time
Ritual ceremonies often involve dancing. Each ritual has its own attire. It should be sturdy, to accompany and magnify movements, and splendid, to embellish the dance.
From ostentation to concealment, bridal headdresses carry symbols of prosperity and fertility to provide good omens as young girls take on the status of wife and future mother.
At the crossroads of cultures
These headdresses reflect both the tastes and needs of a people, at a given moment in time, and external influences. This cross-fertilization can be seen in the shapes and materials used.
Now it's over to you
This mánda hàre headdress (Oceania) marks completion of 'hāroli', a period of isolation and learning undergone by:
Among the Huli people, headdresses made of hair are a key part of body ornaments and attire. They are often dyed red or black and various ornaments, such as feathers, flowers and beetle shells, are pinned onto them. The mánda hàre headdress marks completion of 'hāroli', a period of isolation and learning undergone by single men.
In Asia, children, who are considered to be more vulnerable, wear hats decorated with protective patterns:
In Asia, there is a strong connection between the cosmos, nature and people. People must, therefore, protect themselves from the harmful secondary effects of this interrelationship. Children, who are considered to be more vulnerable, wear hats decorated with protective patterns in daily life.
In Namibia, among the Himba and Herero peoples, the various stages in life were traditionally marked by a specific headdress. For women, there were:
Following the wide plaits worn by young girls, three women's headdresses represent the statuses of child, young woman of marrying age and mother. This tradition also exists among the men.
The colours of this hat depend on the marital status of the woman wearing it.
The shapes of these hats vary according to their province of origin. They are markers of Andean culture and show the ethnic identity of the women who wear them. They contribute to the shimmering colours of the markets, where the women, the main bearers of distinctive signs of their community, come together and trade.
This headdress-hat is from:
This feather hat is prized by the Kayapo Indians of Brazil and wearing it is a rare privilege. It is related to a story that tells of a fight between two mythical characters and a giant harpy eagle. The victorious heroes are said to have created the first headdress using the bird's feathers.
In Japan, this hat was first worn by:
Jingasa were first used by foot soldiers before being worn by lords of the military establishment while travelling or on certain not very official occasions. They are usually lacquered in black on a metal, paper or wickerwork structure.
n the Cameroon Grasslands, the wearing of hats used to be reserved for:
Today, chiefs, dignitaries, musicians and members of secret societies wear these cotton hats, the shapes of which vary according to the social standing of their owner.
These headdresses are worn in Papua New Guinea during dances for the Rimbu Indali ceremony, thought to ward off disease and drought.
Many pigs are sacrificed during this ceremony. During the dances that punctuate these festivities, it is the role of the assistant, who can be recognised by his headdress, to encourage and direct the dancers.
This African wig, made of many twisted locks of hair, is worn by women.
This headdress is worn by Maasai warriors known as 'Moran', whose traditional role is to protect the community and herds. The irpapit lormoran headdress was made of many twisted locks of hair, coated with ochre and fat, sometimes with one or several wooden tips at the end. They were further decorated with strings of pearls given by fiancées. Nowadays, the Moran make wigs with cotton and wool yarn or plant fibres.
This mask hides the entire human body. It is from:
In Nigeria, this egugun mask represents the spirit of an ancestor appearing among the living. It may appear several days after the death of a family member, or during ceremonies to honour the memory of the deceased. The mask dances while spinning, making the fabric strips twirl to the sound of the drums. The wind it creates is thought to be beneficial. However, direct contact with it may be fatal for the living.
These headdresses decorated with chafer shells are worn by initiated men during major annual celebrations, known as 'smy', dedicated to:
Headdresses decorated with chafer shells are worn by initiated men during major annual celebrations, known as 'smy', dedicated to fertility. These celebrations are also linked to the initiation of young boys and the piercing of their nose septum.
This wedding headdress is worn by:
In India, marriage is one of the most important rites of passage in Hinduism. In West Bengal, the 'topor', a conical hat decorated with hanging bobbles, distinguishes the groom before and throughout the ceremony. It is given by the family-in-law to bring happiness to the couple. The bride, on the other hand, wears a tiara, known as a 'mukut', with a veil.
This hat in the shape of a ray is inspired by caps worn by the:
It uses the overall shape and the pattern of the Germanic imperial cockades. With its blending of styles, this object is a reminder that between 1884 and the beginning of World War I, Germany colonised part of north-eastern New Guinea.
Oh dear. Your knowledge of headdresses and their uses is lacking. Visit the exhibition to put that right!
Not bad. Visit the exhibition to improve your knowledge and get full marks next time!
Well done, it looks like you know a thing or two about headdresses. Come and discover the exhibition: you may be surprised!
Portraits and perspectives of ethnologists
A selection of films in resonance with the exhibition, in collaboration with the Jean Rouch International Ethnographic Film Festival.See timetable and price here
Stories about collections: meeting with Antoine de Galbert
An exceptional discussion with the collector and donor Antoine de Galbert, who speaks with Hélène Lafont-Couturier, director of the Musée des Confluences.See timetable and price here
A collector of contemporary art and art brut, Antoine de Galbert has built a collection of approximately 500 headdresses from around the world. In 2018, his collection of headdresses arrived at the Musée des Confluences. The objects were inventoried, restored and studied with a view to their integration in the museum’s collections and their display in this exceptional exhibition.See timetable and price here
Discovery tour of the temporary exhibitions
An original discovery tour to embrace all the diversity of the temporary exhibitions and explore the themes and collections on display.See timetable and price here
Family tour – “Comme un jeu d’enfants” (Like child’s play)
During the exhibition, children and adults set off together on a journey around the world as they search for animals hidden in the collection’s headdresses.
Children aged under 13 must be accompanied by an adult
Original tours and Grand bal poussière
While the Crystal, the museum’s large entrance hall, is filled with the rhythm of the dances, balafons and percussion instruments of Burkina Faso, original tours of the exhibition give visitors a chance to see the collection in a different light.See timetable and price here
The exhibition catalogue
Headdresses from around the World. Antoine de Galbert's donation of headdresses
Over a period of around 30 years, Antoine de Galbert built a collection of more than 500 headdresses from around the world, which he donated to the Musée des Confluenc...