Akan

Akan

The term ‘Akan’ covers an ethnic or linguistic and culturally linked group of people in Ghana and the Ivory Coast with a well defined political and social organisation, based originally on a military model. The most powerful were the Asante. Powerful chiefs of the vanguard, left wing, right wing, bodyguard, etc. bore allegiance to the Asantehene, the paramount chief. Numerous independent Akan states existed in Southern Ghana, some calling themselves ‘Fante’ rather than Asante, but organised on a similar model. They all shared a tradition of migration from further north.

Anyi

One of the Akan group from the south-east of the Ivory Coast around Krinjabo and the lower reaches of the Comoé river. They are divided into a number of hierarchical kingdoms. Like the Asante, each king or chief is the incumbent of a ‘stool’ enshrining the dignity and spiritual ancestry of the people. Although his position is inherited, it remains subject to the approval of his elders and people.

Baule

One of the Akan group sharing similar language and, in general, matrilineal inheritance. They broke away from the Asante of Ghana in the 18th century, bringing with them craftsmanship in gold and gold leaf decoration. Their wood carving, particularly of masks, owes more to their Ivory Coast neighbours (Senufo, Guro and Yaure) than to Asante, where wooden masks are almost unknown.

Ghana

Ghana, on the west African coast, was formerly the British colony and protectorate of the Gold Coast. It includes the former British protectorate of Ashanti and the Northern Territories and also part of the former trusteeship territory of Togoland. Accra is the capital.

Akan pendant mask

Akan pendant mask
view: front

This small gold pendant in the form of a mask weighs 52.3 grammes. The gold is twenty-two carats.


Goldweight representing a human couple

goldweight representing a human couple
view: front

This goldweight is quite large in size for a goldweight. It is cast in brass by the lost-wax (cire perdue) process. The figures are depicted with ringleted hairand tattoo markings. They have carefully modelled heads and faces.


Goldweight representing a drummer

goldweight representing a drummer
view: front

This brass goldweight is depicted with ringleted hair and tattoo markings. It has a carefully modelled head and face.


Goldweight as a seated man

goldweight as a seated man
view: front

This brass goldweight is depicted with ringleted hair and tattoo markings. It has a carefully modelled head and face. It is depicted sitting on a round stool-like object.