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HOME : Islamic Art : AS.USA : Akan/Asante Terracotta Head
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Akan/Asante Terracotta Head - PF.3901
Origin: Southern Ghana
Circa: 17 th Century AD to 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.5" (26.7cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: AS.USA

Location: United States
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Excavated at Ahinsan, Southern Ashanti. This figure dates from the 17th to the 18th century and its form clearly inspired the more recent akua'ba sculptures of contemporary Ghana.

The famous ethnologist R.S. Rattray, who studied the Ashanti extensively, recorded the legend, "a woman potter had become sterile after having modeled figures for a pottery shrine." The ceremonial and funeral pottery was therefore made by men.

Figurines of heads, such as this one, were attached to the lids of the family pottery funerary shrines reserved for the worship of the female principal "abusua". These sculptures were discovered partially buried, abandoned in ancient places of worship outside the village. According to inhabitants they are "ancestor portraits." Terracotta statuary seems to have been eclipsed by the extraordinary development of goldsmith work. In turn, these works in gold became the repositories of the supernatural forces of the deceased, and the terracotta portraits laid forgotten until this century.
- (PF.3901)


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