State sword



Asante peoples
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General Description

Asante regalia includes state swords (afena), which are the second most important symbols of power and authority after stools (i.e., thrones). This sword typifies the Asante state sword: its form is a simple and slightly curved iron blade with a wooden hilt shaped like a dumbbell and decorated with carved geometric patterns. The entire hilt may be covered with gold leaf or, like this one, whitened with kaolin with only the grip and finial gilded. The scabbard, or sheath, is made of highly prized stingray skin on one side and animal skin (probably antelope) on the other. The kaolin on the pommels of the hilt and ray skin was periodically refreshed, and the gold leaf was restored. Depending on how this sword was used, it may have had a cast gold ornament (abosodee) tied to it, which has been lost.

Excerpt from

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