This intricately constructed broad brimmed hat seems most closely related to 19th century hats of Sierra Leone. Hats with both similar and related construction and decoration can be seen in the collections of the British Museum (Inv: BM:Af.1852.930.3) and the World Museum Liverpool (Inv: LIVCM.18.104.22.168).
The example in the British Museum has a similar broad rim that is decorated with supplemental fibre stitching in two tones, as is this piece. Most likely the binding holding the grass tufts decorating the crown were meant to be temporary for transport or storage and would have been removed when worn.
Although the basic form and structure of the example the World Museum is different, it is similarly decorated with the distinctive upright tufts of grass and quite possibly a ‘pompom’ of fibre at its apex, although the fibres are still bound on the example in the World Museum.
Another example, as well as others can be viewed on the website SierraHeritage.org while doing a search for “hats”.
Provenance: From the collection of FitzRroy Richard Somerset, 4th Baron of Raglan (1885-1964), who followed in the footsteps of his great-grandfather the 1st Baron Raglan with a military career, joining the Grenadier Guards, with whom he served in Hong Kong (1912-13), North Africa (1913-19) and Palestine (1919-21). An accomplished linguist, he learnt both Arabic and Lotuko, the language of one of the peoples of the Sudan; and it was during his service in Sudan that he became interested in cultural anthropology and where he collected this hat.