Cast gold, hammered
Overall: 7 x 7.6 x 1.6 cm (2 3/4 x 3 x 5/8 in.)
James Albert Ford Memorial Fund 1944.290
As a precious material, gold was reserved for high status individuals in the Asante culture, such as chiefs and kings. This gold pectoral disk was first cast and then hammered to create the complex and intricate patterns that you see. It would have been worn during public festivals by the individual who purified the ruler's soul.
Shared by different Akan and Akan-related peoples, including the Asante and Baule, gold ornaments indicate status and wealth and are worn at public festivals by titleholders, chiefs, and kings. Most pectoral disks are suspended over the chest by a white, pineapple-fiber cord. They are owned by the okra, a young official who purifies the chief’s soul--hence, the name akrafokonmu, meaning "soul-washer’s badges" or "soul disks."
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