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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Akan Gold Beaded Necklace
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Akan Gold Beaded Necklace - FJ.6948
Origin: Ivroy Coast/Ghana
Circa: 16 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD

Collection: African
Style: Akan
Medium: Gold


Location: United States
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Description
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.

This sumptuous necklace, with its large central circular pendant, was surely intended for the chief of an Akan village or the king of an individual tribe. The central pendant depicts a crocodile with its distinctive spiny back. The crocodile is a traditional symbol of chiefly strength and power. There is an Akan proverb that translates as, “fish in the stream grow fat… for the benefit of the crocodile,” detailing that the wealth of the villagers is the wealth of the king. Smaller rectangular beads interspersed with round spheres compose the remainder of the piece. This gorgeous necklace is stunning not so much for the inherent worth and splendor of the material, but more for the outstanding artistry and workmanship of the beads. Gold is among the most treasured material on earth. However, the artist of this necklace has transformed the natural wonder of the gold into something even more precious: a masterpiece of African jewelry.
- (FJ.6948)

 

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