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    Elijah Muhammad: Black Velvet and Jeweled Kofia, the Interior Embroidered with "Elijah Muhammad, Our King, Messenger of Allah" in Red and Bearing a Temple 2 Label. Arguably the Most Luxurious of Elijah Muhammad's Kofias, this Iconic Item is Decorated with Platinum, Gold, Diamonds, Rubies and Pearls. In assessing the desirability, and hence value, of an item of this kind, a key concern is the degree to which the particular item is "iconic" for that individual. Without question, the kofia is THE iconic item associated with Elijah Muhammad. He can be seen wearing this kofia at Savior's Day in both 1973 and 1974, just prior to his death in 1975.

    Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole), one of the most influential black leaders of the twentieth century, was born in the South in 1897 and came North with his young wife and children as part of the great migration after the crash of 1929. In Detroit, he heard Master W. Fard Muhammad speak at the Temple of Islam in 1931, and immediately converted. Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam, gave Elijah his new name and made him a minister, and he became an integral part of the Temple. By 1934, Elijah Muhammad had inherited the leadership of the Nation and relocated the center from Detroit to Chicago, where he established Temple No. 2. Elijah Muhammad continued to lead the Nation of Islam for the next 40 years during which time he expanded the membership, established many businesses and mentored many notable members including Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.

    This kofia was probably made in the early 1970's, and is the luxurious version of the original kofia designed by Dr. Shakeela Hassan, a Pakastani immigrant befriended by the Muhammad family when she moved to Chicago to study Medicine, for Elijah Muhammad in the early 1950's. The original kofia, and many versions Dr. Hassan made subsequently, were velvet (purchased at Marshall Field's in Chicago) that were sent to Lahore to be embroidered to Dr. Hassan's instructions. The story is told by Dr. Hassan that at a dinner in the early 1950's, at the home of Elijah and Clara Muhammad, he said he wanted a special hat for special occasions: "a fez." After talking for bit, Dr. Hassan sketched a hat on a piece of paper with symbols she proposed for the Nation; the crescent and star. This later version bears some resemblance to the original, still made of fine velvet, but no longer embroidered with metallic threads. This kofia is decorated with the same symbols made of platinum, gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls. By the time this kofia was made, the Nation of Islam had grown into a very large and important organization with highly profitable businesses, investments and publications. It is believed that the net worth at the time of Elijah Muhammad's death was about $80 million.

    Provenance: From Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) to his eldest son Emmanuel Muhammad (1921-1998), then from Emmanuel to his daughter Fatimah Muhammad. In the early 1990's, Emmanuel and Fatimah put the kofia and his ring in a safe deposit box at a South side Chicago bank in which the Nation of Islam owned controlling interest. The items remained in the safe deposit box until this offering.

    The intrinsic elements of the kofia have been assessed by the Heritage Fine Jewelry department, which has provided this report:

    The large crescent and a few stars are platinum, and the settings are white and yellow gold. As they are attached, it is not possible to weigh and evaluate those elements.

    Diamonds: Approximately 23 carats total weight, the largest being 7.20 mm in diameter, approximately 1.30 ct. Unable to measure depths because of settings.

    Gemstones include: Star sapphire, sapphire, ruby, emerald, turquoise, black onyx, amethyst, cultured pearls.

    Estimated auction value of the raw components would be at least $8000. Note: A notarized letter of provenance from Muhammad's grandson, pictured on our website, accompanies this lot.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2017
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,531

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    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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