Vintage African headrest with detailed carving from the Ashanti people of Ghana. Collected and brought back to the UK in the 40's but may be older. In excellent condition. // Most cattle-herding traditions of Africa use headrests. The reason is not hard to find. Owning cattle means you have to move with your herd to find new pastures and that means being highly mobile. That’s not all. In traditional African tribal culture cows and goats equate to wealth and having wealth means you have to protect your assets. The consequence is that most cattle-herding cultures also have a warrior caste- young men who protect their livestock. So why use headrests? Well, being nomadic doesn't just mean being mobile and being capable of carrying your possessions, there’s a degree of status and even vanity involved too… Authentic tribal art and African wooden headrests and neck rests are often important status symbols. Used mostly by men but also by women in some cultures, they are hand carved and used to keep the head lifted up while sleeping. Each African head rest is specially made for its owner and the size is determined by the distance of the shoulder to the neck. Since neckrests are mostly favoured by pastoralist people they tend to light, durable and easy to carry. While head rests are used like pillows and tend to have a flatter surface to rest on, neck-rests tend to have a crescent shaped curve to hold and provide support for the neck. somlia african neck rest Most nomadic people of Africa go to great lengths to adorn themselves. Young men will spend idle hours keeping watch over their cattle while braiding each others hair. Often red ochre mixed with animal fat will be applied to achieve elaborate hairstyles. The resulting hairdos are impressive but also attract dust and, since water is often in short supply, keeping one's head off the ground makes perfect sense.