In Focus

An Asante Album in Texas

Robert Low Brandon Kirby (1852–after 1918), was an Assistant Inspector with the Gold Coast Constabulary from 1881 to 1885. Amid tense relations between the Asante kingdom and the British Empire, Brandon Kirby completed two missions to the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana). It was during the second of these visits that he obtained photographs of his trip and two examples of Asante gold regalia. The album contains views of the Asante kingdom—its lands, citizens, and royal court [2017.12].

After his Gold Coast service concluded, Brandon Kirby relocated to the area that eventually became New Mexico. He partnered with Scotsman James Cree to purchase cattle ranches. When Kirby was forced to leave the area quickly, the Asante mementos stayed with Cree and were passed through generations of his descendants. The album and its two accompanying Asante gold works—a cast spider sword ornament and a finely detailed T-shaped pendant—entered the Dallas Museum of Art’s collection in 2014 and sparked the idea for the 2018 exhibition, Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, which focused on the splendor and symbolism of Asante royal regalia [2014.26.1, 2014.26.2].

Excerpt from

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