Yoruba artist
Nigeria, Okuku
Tunic (agbada), about 1916 ‑ 1934
Glass beads, cotton velvet, plain‑weave cotton
50 × 104 in. (127 × 264.2 cm.)
Museum purchase  2010.1.4 a,b

Dressing a King
This tunic once belonged to the oba or king of the Nigerian town of Okuku. It served as an emblem of his authority, power, and prestige. All Yoruba kings trace their lineage to the first divine kings, sons of the god Oduduwa. When the oba wears his royal crown and tunic, he is the embodiment of the eternal line of divine kingship. The imagery on this tunic—referencing politics, history, Christianity, Islam, and traditional African beliefs—symbolizes his ties to sacred kings of the past and his important unifying role in the community.