Sword ornament in the form of a lion



Asante peoples
c. mid–20th century
more object details

General Description

This heavy, hollow cast gold sculpture depicting a male lion originally adorned a state sword ( afena) that was displayed—rather than worn—by the king’s sword bearers on important ceremonial occasions. The lion is an emblem for the bravery of the chief. An Asante proverb states, “If the lion has no intention to attack, it will not show its teeth before you,” advising a person to heed the warnings of a chief. This lion’s teeth are bared.

Gold is the sun’s earthly complement; like the sun, the Asante king represents the soul and vitality of the Asante nation. Thus, the Asantehene (king), the chiefs, and other officials wear and carry an abundance of gold.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.

Related Multimedia

Collections smARTphone video; Roz Walker discusses Sword ornament in the form of a lion from Ghana, Nsuta state, Asante peoples (DMA collection 2010.2.McD)
Collections smartphone audio related to Sword ornament in the form of a lion, 2010.2.McD, Ghana, Nsuta State, Asante peoples, (DMA Collection)