African Art

Men’s Pillow with Volute Designs

early 20th century

Leather and pigment

12 × 6 × 22in. (30.48 × 15.24 × 55.88 cm)
Gift of Labelle Prussin, Ph.D. 1973
The design on this pillow relates to the schematic representations of hatumere, the magic squares of Judaic and Islamic kabbalistic writing. Leather pillows for women are round and fringed with abstract ornamentation that is rich with sexual symbolism. The geometric elements on the rectangular pillows for men consist mostly of squares, lozenges, and chevrons and allude to motifs found in body ornaments and architectural ornamentation.
Laayoune, Western Sahara, North Africa
20th century

Labelle Prussin purchased in Laayoune, Western Sahara in 1998 from a Hassaniya woman leatherworker's workshop
Donated to Yale University Art Gallery by Labelle Prussin in 2007.


Labelle Prussin, “David in West Africa: ‘No More Forever’?,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005): 100, ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 188.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.