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HOME : Islamic Art : AS.USA : Akan Gold Sculpture of a Bird
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Akan Gold Sculpture of a Bird - PF.8005
Origin: Ghana
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD

Collection: African Art
Style: Akan
Medium: Wood and Gold Leaf

Additional Information: AS.USA
Location: United States
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The Asante (also spelled Ashanti) are one of the many tribes that makes up the greater Akan peoples. The Akan all share general cultural trends while maintaining separate tribal identities, including the Baule, Fanti, Anyi, and several others. In the 18th century, these tribes formed a federation that rose up against European invaders, uniting under the emblem of a golden stool.

Their society is highly ritualized, with numerous gods under the main deity known as Onyame (“the Supreme One”), and a host of lesser gods (Abosom) who are mostly connected with the natural world (earth, ocean, rivers, animals etc). They ruled by Asantahenes, and a host of minor chiefs who claim royal status through their connection with the founders of villages and the land itself. Descent is matrilineal, which is perhaps why so many of their sculptural works depict women. They are renowned not only for their ritual works, but also for their secular and decorative pieces which – while reflecting aspects of ritual and social life – are designed purely for aesthetic reasons.

Founded in the 14 century. the Asante live today primarily in the central portion of the nation of Ghana, and are arguably one of the most important groups, at least artistically. Their Akuaba dolls are one of the most celebrated and recognizable forms of African art. They are also famed for their goldwork. The Akan consider gold to be a physical manifestation of life’s vital force, or “kra.” Throughout the Akan region, during important ceremonies, it is common to find royal courts and their entourage festooned in magnificent gold jewelry, adornments and other assorted items that speak of their wealth and power.

This wooden sculpture of a bird eating a grub has been covered in a thin layer of gold sheet. Much Akan art represents various parables and myths. This piece may be one such example. The texture of the bird's feathery coat has been suggested by fine lines incised onto the surface of the sculpture. - (PF.8005)


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