Sword ornament in the form of a spider

MAKER:
Artist

Unknown

CULTURE:
Asante peoples
DATE:
Late 19th century
more object details

General Description

This cast gold spider (ananse), a symbol of wisdom, once decorated a personal sword belonging to Kwaku Dua II, who ruled the Asante Kingdom in 1884. Although Kwaku Dua II was designated the heir apparent by his dying grandfather, he did not automatically become Asantehene (king) upon coming of age; instead, he was one of three rivals for the position. In an effort to gain British support for his claim, Kwaku Dua II offered this casting as a “mark of private friendship” to the colonial governor of the Gold Coast (modern Ghana).h

Uncertain of what the spider symbolized and whether accepting it would commit him to intervene on Kwaku Dua II’s behalf, the governor returned it; however, Kwaku Dua II was eventually crowned, perhaps with assistance from another British official.

Excerpt from

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