The Cuff. Is this the ultimate power adornment?
The cuff is the perfect blend of empowering and sexy, and its story spans Ancient Egypt and 1970s New York, Wakanda and Wonder Woman. Cath Pound explores an iconic item of jewellery.
However, cuffs did not have to be made of fine materials in order to indicate status. In the West African Kingdom of Benin, which reached the height of its power in the 16th Century, materials imbued with a spiritual meaning such as ivory, coral and brass were decorated with symbols that linked the Oba (king) with his spiritual counterpart, the sea god Olokun. This included the unusual combination of mudfish and the faces of Portuguese merchants, with whom the kingdom traded. …
In the 21st Century cuffs have seen a revival of interest helped no doubt by their appearance in superhero films. In Black Panther they are worn by the Dora Milaje, the elite group of female bodyguards who are also part of Wakandan special forces. The wire cuffs, which extend from wrist to forearm, are undeniably powerful looking while also being beautiful enough to be considered wearable in the real world. This is probably because the pieces were, unusually for a film, created by a jewellery designer, Douriean Fletcher. Fletcher also makes cuffs for her own collection and has spoken of her desire for the women who wear them to feel empowered.