Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Fante Asafo Flag Frankaa Ghana African Art

AvailabilityIn stock
US Shipping
More Information
Type of Object Asafo Company Flag
Country of Origin Ghana
People Fante
Materials Colth
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 58
Width (in) 32
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Stains

Additional Information: These creative flags (frankaa) represent divisions among the Fante people of coastal Ghana called Asafo Companies. Asafo Companies are seen in historical record as far back as the 15th century, and until the end of the British occupation in 1957 they served a true military purpose for the local groups. Most Fante coastal towns had at least one company and larger towns may have had up to ten, which led to rivalries and conflicts. Some of the conflicts are depicted on the flags of the companies. Asafo Companies were politically engaged in the selection of chiefs and identified religiously to their particular military shrine (pousban) that served as a gathering place and centers of activity for these Asafo companies. Each local company is identified by a particular name and number and through a set of symbols displayed prominently on their flags. The companies held occasional military ceremonies and specially trained dancers calledfrankaakitsanyi present the company flag to the public. Frankaakitsanyi dancers and actors known as asikamafu worked in concert to display the proud patriotism of the local company.

Asafo flags identify the carrying company, and they also portray a proverb, event, or relationship on the flag. Proverbs are given imaginative forms by different colored cutout figures appliquéd upon cotton rectangle approximately a meter by a meter and a half in size and the cloth was generally produced in European weaving mills.

Asafo flags have a rough system that can be used to define the date of origin: the British ensign is often featured on flags before Ghana achieved independence in 1957. Therefore Asafo flags with the Ghanaian ensign in one of the corners indicate that the flag was put together post-independence and thereby after 1957.

Recommended Reading:

Adler, P. and Nicholas Barnard, ASAFO! AFRICAN FLAGS OF THE FANTE, Thames and Hudson, 1992

Cole, H.M. & Ross, D. “Arts of Ghana”. 1977.

Mato, D. “Aspects; Akan Culture in Ghana”. 2002.

Nowes, Howard. "Asafo Company Flags." Howard Nowes Ancient Art (2016)

We do not recommend laundering textiles, and do not accept returns of textiles which have been laundered in any manner. Even dry cleaning is too much for some of these antique textiles. For some of them, a very gentle HAND washing (NEVER MACHINE, on any setting) in cool water with a very gentle detergent works, but even then, dyes may not be colorfast, and fabric may be less strong than it appears.