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Mid-20th Century Fante Asafo Flag, Ghana

About

A large and graphically stunning asafo flag. Fante flags represent the merger of two cultural traditions, the Akan tradition of combining proverbs with visual imagery, and the European heraldic tradition, which used flags and banners displaying royal arms in regimental colors. The Fante are a Sub-group of the Akan people from Ghana. Even though Akan societies had no standing army, the asafo (a people’s militia) was a well-established social and political organization based on martial principles. Every able-bodied person belonged to an asafo group; every child automatically belonged to his or her father’s company. The asafo flags are essentially tribal flags that were used from colonial times to the present. The Union Jack is borrowed from the British colonizers. Each asafo company designed its own flag, which expressed its strength and quite often, the inferiority of the adversary. On important occasions the flags were shown and special dancing was done. These exhibitions could result in little feuds when a depicted prank on a flag caused offense to another party. A competitor could be depicted as a pack of vultures or as a school of fish, eating its fill, only to be eaten by the crocodile, the flag’s company. Apart from this rivalry, proverbs from everyday life could be depicted, reflecting the importance of proverbs throughout Akan culture. The oldest examples date from the second half of the 19th century, but even today these flags are being made. There are, however, restrictions for replacement of old by new flags. Each new flag has to be approved by the highest authority within the hierarchy and subsequently has to be inaugurated in a special ritual.

Details

  • Materials and techniques
  • Condition
    Good.
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions

    H 40 in. x W 48 in. x D .1 in.

    H 101.6 cm x W 121.92 cm x D 2.54 mm

  • Seller location
    New York, NY
  • Reference number
    LU104801629122

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