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Akan Gold Sculpture of a Water Buffalo - PF.6288
Origin: Ghana
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 2.5" (6.4cm) high
Collection: African
Style: Akan
Medium: Gold

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In many cultures throughout the world, gold has been associated with status, power, prestige and wealth. As early as the 15th century, European merchants wrote about the richness of African gold objects used for adornment and intended for public display. Gold deposits were discovered in all regions of Africa, and became the most important commodity during pre-colonial times. The region of the Akan, spreading from the forest zone and costal areas of Ghana to the southern shores of the Ivory Coast, is the richest auriferous zone in West Africa. Several individual tribes make up the Akan people, the Asante and Baule being among the most famous, all united by their common ancestry and language. The royal courts of the Akan people were reportedly the most splendid in Africa. Oral tradition and iconography in Akan works of art are very closely connected. Verbal and visual symbolism tells stories or proverbs. Imagery of royal power on court ornaments carry out messages that helps keep the balance and continuity within the society.

The African water buffalo, properly known as the African cape buffalo, is known for its fierce and aggressive demeanor, earning it the dubious nickname of, “black death in the tall grass.” Among the Akan, the water buffalo is honored as one of the animals that symbolize the seven matrilinear clan branches of their tribal family tree. The buffalo, or ekoo, is a symbol of might and dexterity. This gorgeous gold sculpture captures none of the ferocity for which this animal is admired and feared. Its horns arch over its head and seem rather diminutive in comparison to the overall size of the animal’s head. While the body is comprised of rows of parallel bands alternating with openwork spiral rings, concentric semi-circles, producing a pattern that is rhythmic and soothing. Such patterns are characteristic of Akan goldwork. - (PF.6288)

 

 

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