Asante peoples
Late 19th–early 20th century
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General Description

Kuduo are cast brass containers for storing valuables; they were also used in religious, social, and civic rites. Arabic calligraphy and geometric motifs were introduced to Akan peoples via the trans-Saharan and trans-Sudanic gold trade. Several Asante towns became important trading centers with a strong Muslim presence. By the 16th century, brass vessels had been assimilated into Akan culture as sacred objects. Their decoration was a combination of Muslim and Akan surface designs. Later, Akan metalsmiths created new configurations and designs based on the prototypes.

This object is an example of a casket kuduo, which are the most complex and typically largest form of Asante cast brass vessels. They have three integrated parts: a pedestal base, a body, and a hinged lid. The lid of the vessel is decorated with geometric relief castings of a stepped pyramid, and other forms that may represent powder kegs and beads. Over time, the complexity of casket kuduo decoration increased; later examples bear figural scenes in high relief.

Adapted from

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

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