Aug 12, 2020

I fell in love with the striking, colorful Juju hats the second I saw them for the first time many many years ago in Paris. Those colorful hats, made out of dyed chicken feathers and sewn into a raffia base, quickly became a go to decorative accessory for interior designers everywhere. They are beloved by travel – loving, bohemian types. I have been designing with them for more than 15 years!

Westport, CT - August 6, 2014: Home of Olga Adler in Westport, Connecticut. Credit: Photography by Bruce Buck.

Originally from Cameroon, a Juju hat or, as it should be called – a Bemileke or Tyn hat is a ceremonial head dressing used for special occasions. For hundreds of years the Bamileke tribes have been creating these hats for their tribal chiefs, royal families and dignitaries to wear during tribal ceremonies.

Intricately hand-made by villagers in rural Cameroon, each hat is unique and takes 2-3 days to complete. These artisans have been making these hats for years and are master weavers. The hats can only be made during the dry months of the year so that the grass and feathers can dry before manufacturing process can begin. The Juju hat folds up into itself and is portable when moving or storing.

The color options are almost limitless – from natural (un-dyed) feathers to snow white, all the way to dark navy and black and everything in between. I have a special affinity for orange and magenta ones but I worked with white and black ones as well.

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