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).
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 kradware, 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 a typical pre-colonial example. Gold ornament making ceased until 1924; court officials now wear large discs.
Disk Pendant (akrafokɔnmu)
1800s, before 1871; pin added later
Africa, West Africa, Ghana, Asante Empire/ Kingdom, member of the goldsmiths’ guild
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