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HOME : Islamic Art : AS.USA : Akan Brass Tool
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Akan Brass Tool - PF.4970 (LSO)
Origin: Ghana
Circa: 20 th Century AD

Collection: African
Medium: Brass

Additional Information: AS.USA
Location: United States
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This intriguing object is a pair of pincers/pliers made in a traditional style by the Akan polity of the Gold Coast (Ghana). We have never seen such a piece before, so this attribution is inevitably tentative; however, the application of swirls and deconstructed human forms on either of the handles would certainly support this identification.

The Akan are a loose assemblage of tribes – including the Akuapem, the Akyem, the Ashanti, the Baoulé, the Anyi, the Brong, the Fante and the Nzema – that share general cultural trends while maintaining separate tribal identities. Their society is highly ritualised, with numerous gods under a main deity who varies according to the group in question (Onyame is the Asante deity), and a host of lesser gods (Abosom) who are connected with the natural world. One factor uniting the Akan is the fact that they took a golden stool as their emblem and rose up against the European invaders in the 18th century. There is a long history of gold mining and gold working in the area, which has been taking place for at least 600 years. The Akan consider gold to be the embodiment of sunlight and a physical manifestation of life’s vital force, or “kra”. Most of the economy is based upon the trade in gold, which is most prominently used for the manufacture of regalia for the royal courts but also found its way into almost every aspect of elite life.

They are known for their work in other materials, notably non-precious metals, and for decoration of secular items. This is a striking piece of Akan material culture and a worthy addition to any collection of the genre.

- (PF.4970 (LSO))


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