Memorial Head (Nsodie)

19th–20th century
more object details

General Description

Akan memorial portraits are generic likenesses differentiated by hairstyles and scarification (permanent marks applied to a person’s body). Their neutral expressions were intended to project an ideal regal persona.

Traditionally, Akan women are ceramists; in the past, only elderly females made funerary terracotta sculpture. Following the death of the king, queen mother, or royal elder, the ceramist captured his or her face by gazing into a bowl of palm oil or water. The finished object, which might be a full figure, bust, or head, was deposited in a special field near the royal cemetery. The memorial sculpture was sometimes joined by additional clay representations of court officials and servants to assist the deceased in the afterlife.

Excerpt from

  • Roslyn Walker, The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, Label text, 2018.