Headrest from the Rendile / Rendille people of Kenya
Rendile headrest from Kenya
Headrests are used by many nomadic people of Eastern Africa while resting or sleeping. It is popularly believed that the headrest serves a
protective function by elevating the head off the ground during sleep, thereby preventing any possible attack by snakes or scorpions.

The Rendille lead a peaceful nomadic life in north central Kenya.  They cling to a nomadic life of herding camels, goats and cattle.  Harassed
constantly by the more powerful groups of Oromo and Turkana, these people lead an extremely harsh existence.  Some sources also report problems
with the Somali, but the Somali have had a relatively benevolent view of eh Rendille as distant relatives.

History:  Before 1500, the ancestors of the Rendille were part of the same people and speaking the same "Somaloid" or Proto-Somali language with
the ancestors of the Somali, Sakuye and Gabbra people.  This people were already organized round a complex camel culture at that time.  This
included an extensive ritual calendar, based on dual lunar and solar calendars involving ceremonies for the well-being of camels and humans.

The 16th century Oromo expansion brought great disruption to these Somaloid peoples causing migrations south and westward from their southern
Ethiopia and Somalia homes.  These peoples were further separated when some groups of them developed ritual kinship arrangements with Oromo
(Borana) peoples for protection.  The Rendille were the southernmost of these Somaloid peoples and maintained their own culture and language more
A wonderful headrest with an old worn patina from the Rendille / Rendile people of Kenya.
I love the abstract form of these great headrests. They were carved from branches or roots
of trees and are very simple, but very wonderful in my opinion.
6 inches tall by 9 inches long
Rendille nomads