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Asafo Flag, ca. 1863

  • Fante, African

Appliqued and embroidered cloth

  • Overall: 40 × 72 inches (101.6 × 182.9 cm) Overall (with fringe): 45 × 73 1/2 inches (114.3 × 186.7 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Acquisitions Fund


Asafo flags such as this were owned collectively by Fante military organizations of Ghana. They were commissioned by each captain for the day of his investiture and were also displayed and danced on special occasions, such as the royal yam festival and at funerals. The applique and embroidered designs on both sides of the flag show figures casting a net in which a large fish is caught. The message is: Europeans erected a strong stone fort (Anomabu Fort), but Africans can use many men to "catch" the fort.

Dr. George Preston. Asafohene Kofi Mensah. the family of Asafohen Obuokwan ("Pathfinder") Sam. Princes Atta-Panyin and Atta-Kakra (alias Charlie and Edward Erskine), twin sons of the late King Arku or Arkrah. (Damon Brandt)

1983-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

African Masterworks In The Detroit Institute of Arts. Washington and London: The Detroit Institute of Arts and Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, cat. no. 21. Quarcoopome, Nii. “Akan Ceremonial Cloths, Costumes, and Flags.” Bulletin of the DIA 91, no. 1-4 (2017): p. 72 (fig. 3.29).

Fante, African, Asafo Flag, ca. 1863, appliqued and embroidered cloth. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Acquisitions Fund, 1983.17.