Jun 12, 2009

Disk Pendant (akrafokɔnmu)

Disk Pendant (akrafokɔnmu)

1800s

Gold

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

Did you know?

An 1886 letter indicates that the English doctor Harry T. Reilly received this disk as a gift from three Asante chiefs for providing them with medical care while they were imprisoned in Cape Coast Castle in the aftermath of the Second Anglo-Ashanti war (1863-64).

Description

Gold discs dangling on the chests of Akan state officials and elites showed their rank and duties. Worn by these akrafo (“soul people”) since the 1800s, they are often linked to ɔkradware, officials who represent and purify (“wash”) the king’s soul. To make them, goldsmiths cast or flattened gold. Muslim North African gold coins likely inspired their form and material, while concentric water rings influenced their composition. This small disc is typical of pre-colonial examples: asantehene (king) Prempeh I reportedly owned this disk. The British emptied his treasury after deposing and exiling him in 1896. Gold ornament making ceased until 1924; court officials now wear large discs.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Jewelry
Medium: 
Gold

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