Asante brass urn
- Tribe: Asante / Ashanti
- Origin: Ghana
- Approx Age: Early - mid 20th Century
- Materials: Brass
- Dimensions cm: 27 tall x 16 wide
- Ref. Number: 0099
A very unusual and beautifully styled Asante brass urn or vessel. This item of the Asante / Ashanti is one that we have never come across before and do not know what it would be used for. We acquired this item from a collector who collected his art back during world war 2 as he was posted in West Africa. It has 2 remaining ostriches and 2 places where we think there would have others for symmetry and the same again for the 2 remaining scorpions. It has typical Asante / Ashanti repeated decorative design around the base and the mass of the urn. Somebody must have loved this piece as they repaired it rather than melting it down to make another as it shows repaired damage.
Asanteman Coronation Durbar in the capital city ofKumasi. Otumfuo Prempeh II the Asantehene is seen with the Golden Stool of Asanteman and members of his retinue, in 1953.
The art of Ashanti can be classified into two main groups: metalwork (casts of brass or gold using a lost-wax method and objects made of hammered metal sheets) and woodcarvings. Fertility and children are the most frequent themes in the wooden sculptures of the Asante. Thus the most numerous works are akua’ba fertility figures and mother-and-child figures called Esi Mansa. The acua’ba are dolls with disk-shaped heads embodying their concept of beauty and carried by women who want to become pregnant and to deliver a beautiful child. The fame of these objects derives from a legend asserting that a woman who has worn one will give birth to a particularly beautiful daughter. A Ghanaian source indicates another use: when a child disappeared, the acua’ba statue was placed with food and silver coins at the edge of the forest to attract the malevolent spirit responsible: the spirit would then exchange the child for the statue. Sculptured mother-and-child figures show the mother nursing or holding her breast. Such gestures express Asante ideas about nurturing, the family, and the continuity of a matrilineage through a daughter or of a state through a son. The mother-and-child figures are kept in royal and commoner shrines where they emphasize the importance of the family and lineage.
The Asante are famous for their ceremonial stools carved with an arched sit set over a foot, referring to a proverb or a symbol of wisdom. They are usually made for a chief when he takes office and are adorned with beads or copper nails and sheets. In rare cases, when the chief is sufficiently important, the stool is placed in a special room following his death to commemorate his memory. Ashanti chairs are based on 17th-century European models and, unlike stools; do not have any spiritual function. They are used as prestige objects by important chiefs during festivities or significant gatherings.
The Ashanti monarch, one of Ghana’s most traditional tribal leaders