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Elaborate beadwork was a fundamental, visible sign of nobility in the Kuba Kingdom of Congo. The high classes wore beadwork daily. But during ceremonies and public functions, Kuba kings, royal title-holders, and other members of court often donned beadwork from head to toe. Masked figures representing mythic royal ancestors attending important ceremonies were also decked out in beaded regalia. Such displays of expensive imported glass beads and cowrie shells, which were a form of currency, exhibited the wealth, might, and sophistication of the kingdom.
from Morton, Dimensions of Power (South Bend, 2018)