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Married Woman's Headdress
Headdresses like the one in the Snite Museum were worn during the nineteenth century into the 1940s. Originally worn by the vast majority of all Herero adult women, the leather headdresses were abandoned as more and more people converted to Lutheranism and adopted in its place a colorful, Victorian-inspired German style. The leather headdresses were only worn by married mothers and were known as omakossi, or cow-horn headdresses. Married women were expected to sew their own garments, although they typically purchased leather and metal from local craftsmen. Many casual observers believe that but the trifoliate shapes at the very top of the piece represent the cattle horns, although in fact they actually represent cattle ears. To see the horns, one has to look at the leather bridal veil on the front, which hangs over the ears and shoulders. The veil is rolled up to look like cattle horns, which then point down.
from Morton, Dimensions of Power (South Bend, 2018)