Ceremonial sword (afena)Artist(s)AsanteArtist NationalityAsanteObject Creation Date20th centuryMedium & Supportiron, wood and gold leafDimensions
2 15/16 in x 30 1/16 in x 3 9/16 in (7.46 cm x 76.36 cm x 9.05 cm)Credit LineGift of Dr. James and Vivian CurtisSubject matter
Swords, called afena
by the Asante, evolved from use as formidable weapons to ceremonial objects by the 18th and 19th century. Elaborate decoration and gold-leaf on afena
were used to show the difference in standing among men at the ruler—the Asantehene—
of the Asante's court. The origin of their shape may be islamic weapons from sahara trade. Afena
were also used as communication tools, as officials sent to deliver messages or conduct negotiations were escorted by sword-bearers.
MacLeod, Malcolm D. 1981. The Asante
. London: British Museum Publications Ltd. Physical Description
This sword has an iron blade that is narrow toward the handle and gradually widens at the top, ending in a slight curve. Along the edge of the blade are small, half-circular knobs and near the top of the blade there are geometric cut-outs. The handle is formed by two spheres connected by a bar. At the bottom of the handle is a conical projection. The handle is covered in gold-leaf. Primary Object Classification Metalwork Primary Object TypeswordCollection AreaAfricanRights
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symbols of office or status