Coiled rush hat (sumulelu)

Chumash, 18th century AD
From California, North America

A priest's hat

The hat is decorated with crosses, as well as traditional geometric designs. Chumash women sometimes wore coiled brimless caps, but the Spanish explorer Pedro Font indicated in 1776 that California basket weavers were already experimenting with new shapes of headgear:

'They know how to make baskets with a great variety of designs and of any form which may be requested of them - even the shape of sombreros....'

This unique Chumash priest's hat may have been made for a favoured father, possibly Vincent Santa María, whom George Vancouver called an 'excellently-good man' and transported from Santa Barbara to Ventura on his way south along the California coast in 1793.

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More information


J.C.H. King, First peoples, first contacts: (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Diameter: 36.000 cm

Museum number

AOA Van 196


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


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