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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Akan gold

Spectacular Collection of Golden Regalia From Ghana


Akan goldWest African Gold: Akan Regalia from the Glassell Collection showcases the extraordinary craftsmanship of goldsmiths and weavers of Ghana, and presents many works by Asante artists. 

Chief's ring with "starburst", jewelry from the Asante kingdom.

BOSTON, MASS.- , the exhibition features more than 100 examples of royal dress and adornment—jewelry, staffs, crowns, sandals, swords, and figurative sculptures—drawn from a collection given to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston by Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., the most extensive collection of African gold in an American museum. This exhibition has been organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In celebration of the exhibition opening, the King of the Asante people of Ghana, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II—officially known as the Asantehene.

“The momentous visit of the Asantehene to the Museum underscores the importance of this stunning collection of African gold,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “We’re honored to have the opportunity of hosting the Asantehene, as well as presenting the extraordinary craftsmanship and traditions of the artists of the Akan realm.”

The royal dress and adornment which are on display in the exhibition—some of the most spectacular in Africa—provide excellent examples of the splendor of Akan gold. Akan kings envelop themselves in sumptuous golden items of personal adornment including crowns, sandals, and jewelry invested with special meaning and relating to Akan traditions.

On view through March 26, 2006 in the Loring Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA)

the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Avenue 
(617) 267-9300. 

View some African Art pieces at  the official Boston MFA site


Akan jewelry in the form of golden necklaces, bracelets, and rings comes in a myriad of designs, ranging from those inspired by Victorian jewelry and other western objects, such as watches the Akan came to know during their long relationship with European traders on the West African coast, to the depiction of animals, which have always been very important symbols in Akan culture. Most Akan arts allude to proverbs or other expressions such as jokes, riddles and folktales. For example, a Chief’s ring with bird and cannons on view represents the military strength of the chief. The body of the bird has the shape of a square knot, a symbol of wisdom and the ability to solve problems among the Akan who say, “only a wise man can untie the square knot.”

This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The kente cloths on view from the Akan realm are recent MFA acquisitions.

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sub-Saharan African art curator           Boston mfa  

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The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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