By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Kenya; Pokot peoples

Mudpack wig

Human hair, earth, clay, metal
W. 22.86 cm (9 in)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, Anonymous gift in honor of Betty Stanley, 1986.92

Hairstyles and jewelry play crucial roles in the communication of an individual's status. Self-presentation is particularly important for young men as they enter adulthood, a period of competition for power and for the attention of potential wives. Coiffures are the primary expression of the efforts of young Pokot men to create an impressive and beautiful self-presentation. Young men create and maintain each other’s coiffures, spending hours creating carefully sculpted and pigmented mudcaps, working mud into their hair and shaving their hairlines to emphasize the lines of the coiffure. Metal rings are incorporated into this coiffure, probably used to hold ostrich plumes.