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Hundreds of headdresses telling histories in Old Montreal museum


Nearly every culture around the world seems to adorn their heads.

"Headdresses around the World" is an exhibit at the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum that provides proof of this.

The exhibit includes around 300 headbands, bonnets, crowns, and more. Head and shoulders above any other collection, French philanthropist Antoine de Galbert donated the pieces to the Musee des Confluences in Lyon, France, and they are now on loan in Montreal.

Cedric Lesec travelled with the collection from Lyon and represents the Musee des Confluences.

"It's his life, the life of a collector, more than 30 years to collect these objects around the world," said Lesec. "Some are items from daily life; others are for special ceremonies."

From a copper foil wedding crown from Sumatra to a chief's headdress from the Democratic Republic of Congo made of beads, wood and plant fibres, the displays inform the visitors who wore the item and how it was made.

Anne Elisabeth Thibault of the Pointe-a-Calliere museum pointed to the ornate wedding headdresses from India that are actually made out of algae as items that will turn heads.

"Pith helmets" are made out of Sholapith, a white spongy plant matter that hardens as it dries.

"These white algae turns into a paste when it is out of the water, and it becomes really, really solid, and after that, it can be sculpted," said Thibault.

Many headpieces are made with natural, found objects like horns and feathers.

Visitors to the exhibit can learn about how South American artists feed birds certain foods to influence the colours of their feathers before collecting them as they fall.

"They need to preserve the environment," said Thibault. "They have a good knowledge nature, and they will know how to feed the birds in order to have certain colours coming out of the feathers." Top Stories


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