1750 AD to 1900 AD
9.5″ (24.1cm) high x 6.875″ (17.5cm) wide
The Ashanti/Asante are one of the many tribes that makes up the Akan polity. The Akuapem, the Akyem, the Ashanti, the Baoulé, the Anyi, the Brong, the Fante and the Nzema all 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 – the Supreme One – is the Asante deity), and a host of lesser gods (Abosom) who are mostly connected with the natural world (earth, ocean, rivers, animals etc). The society is ruled by Asantahenes, and a host of minor chiefs who claim royal status through their connection with the land and the founders of villages upon it. One factor that unites 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. The Ashanti live in the central portion of the country, and are arguably one of the most important groups from the artistic point of view. Their Akuaba dolls are one of the most recognisable forms on the continent, while their fascination with gold (which the Akan consider a physical manifestation of life’s vital force, or “kra”) has given rise to a plethora of artefactual and artistic production.
This vessel is known as a “kuduo”, which is cast using the lost wax process, and not to be confused with sheet-brass “forowa” vessels (which are used for containing food and fat, among other substances). Their use seems to have been variable, but they are always associated with elite personages within Asante society. Recorded uses include expensive items such as gold dust, gold weights and pearls, while other sources cite their use in religious ceremonies. They are very variable in terms of design, with an assortment of zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and geometric motifs which are assumed to have relevance for the different subgroups which produced them.
This beautifully-constructed brass vessel was made by the Ashante (or Asanti), from modern- day Ghana. It is shaped as a pedestal vessel, with a base section comprised of numerous vertical strips of metal joining the base ring to the cup-shaped body. The sides are vertical, capped by a lid that overlaps the top of the body to provide a tight fit. The lid prominently features a seated man with his hands resting on his knees. His head is disproportionately large for his body, with an open mouth, coffee bean- shaped eyes, hair styled into coils, and a braided goatee. The ground is of the vessel's exterior has additionally been decorated with delicately incised flowers grouped in columns of four. This is an attractive and even usable piece of African art, and a beautiful addition to any collection or sophisticated domestic setting.
Arthur, G. and Rowe, R. 1999-2001. Akan Metal Casting. Downloaded from http://www.marshall.edu/akanart/abrammoo.ht ml
Bacquart, J-B. 2000. The Tribal Arts of Africa: Surveying Africa’s Artistic Heritage. Thames and Hudson, London.
T. Garrard, 1989. 'Gold of Africa'. Prestel-Verlag Publishing, MunichLogin to view price