Ann O’Hear

Researcher of Nigerian material culture

“I am attracted to the RAMM because of its excellent and well-publicised Yoruba holdings. I see, for example, that its holdings include Sango-related items. The Benin items in the RAMM also provide a connection to the beads, as representations of the Oba of Benin show him wearing beads including lantana. I understand that there is some material from Ilorin in the RAMM, but not, to the best of Len Pole’s recollection, any lantana beads, so my collection would fill a gap in the museum’s Yoruba coverage. It would also provide an interesting contrast to the beadworking traditions of East Africa.”

Ann completed her PhD at the Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham in 1983. Her thesis “The Economic History of Ilorin in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: The Rise and Decline of a Middleman Society” has been digitised and can be accessed here.

In 2016, Ann donated a fine selection of lantana beads (accession number 46/2016/1-11). The full donation consists of the following;

2 strings of long cylindrical beads (okun);
necklace of smaller beads (lẹkẹ wẹwẹ) with small pendant (pẹlẹbẹ);
larger pendant (pẹlẹbẹ);
bracelet, fine faceted beads;
3 earplugs (kundi);
9 single beads including 1 barrel-shaped bead (kutukutu) and two fine large okun;
6 damaged beads/fragments
1 piece of raw stone.

Read more about these lantana beads.

Ann had purchased these beads from Baba Elesin, an elderly ex-beadmaker in Ilorin, Nigeria in the mid-1980s. This retired craftsman was repairing and reselling old beads at the time.

From her many years of fieldwork in Nigeria, Ann (together with her husband, Hugh), also purchased examples of adire, aso oke and other types of cloth. They donated these textiles to ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive), and the collection is now part of the Leeds University Library Special Collections.

Ann’s donation to RAMM also includes her research archive pertaining to these beads. Researchers wanting to access the collection and archive should contact Tony Eccles, RAMM’s Curator of Ethnography. Ann OHear-bibliography

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