Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Exhibition at Jacaranda Tribal - Fante Asafo Flags

Jacaranda Tribal has just revealed a new online exhibition dedicated to asafo flags of the Fante peoples of Ghana. Made as part of a martial tradition dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, these flags represent the merger of two cultural traditions: the Akan tradition of combining proverbs with visual imagery and the European heraldic tradition, which used flags and banners displaying royal arms in regimental colors. The Fante are a sub-group of the Akan, and even though Akan societies had no standing army, the asafo (a people’s militia) was a well-established social and political organization based on martial principles. Every able-bodied person belonged to an asafo; every child automatically belonged to his or her father’s company. The asafo flags are essentially tribal flags, used in colonial times and still made today. Depicting a wide variety of human and animal figures engaged in any number of interactions, the iconography of the flags reflects rivalries between asafo companies and illustrates proverbs, which were of rich importance throughout Akan culture. For more details on these works, please visit

Images © James Worrell 2014

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