It is uncertain to eat a headless fish.

 

Fishes are usually identified mainly by the head; without the head it will be difficult to know the type of fish and whether it is safe or unsafe to use for meals.

 

The iconology of this flag depicts a big headless fish with the head somewhere else and two men trying to identify it.

 

The meaning behind this flag is that an Asafo company without a good strong head is not worth dying for - such an Asafo group is boneless and easy to conquer. 

 

Philosophically, it also means that one should be wary about individuals or groups with an uncertain identity and humans should understand what an issue is before 

supporting or accepting it. 

 

 

Saltpond Workshop / Kakanu + sons

 

 

 c. 1960s

 

Cotton with hand sewn appliqued figures + embroidered details.

*holes to orange boarder strip / ripped to lower boarder*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of Asafo Flags:

Asafo Flags have an interesting significance and history.

The Fante people who live along the Central Region of Ghana's coast traded extensively with Europeans and were avid buyers of imported cloth.

 

Lacking a standing army during the 17th century the Fante organized military groups called ‘Asafo’, the name is derived from ‘sa’ meaning war and ‘fo’ meaning people.

 

During this colonization period the ‘Asafo’ people began adopting European and British military practices such as naming and numbering their states and companies.

The earliest flags may have been painted or drawn on raffia cloth but, as is the case today most flags were made of appliquéd trade cloth.

The marking of a special occasions or the installation of a new ‘Asafo’ chief (Supi) are the main motivations for the creation of a new flag.

 

These flags are displayed at different social events including annual festivals, ceremonies and funerals. Simple imagery that is always unique would either depict an historical event, identify the company with an animal, image of power or depict a confrontational proverb to threaten other rival companies.

Patchwork Applique cut edges to produce fringing, color and symbolic scenes which is a mirrored image on both sides are typical of an Asafo Flag.


Many carried the Union Jack until Ghana claimed independence in 1957.

Since the 1990’s these flags have become highly collectible outside of Ghana.
Today newly made flags are facing a decline as these flags are no longer used for war but for peaceful festival displays the demand has dropped with old traditions fading.


Asafo flags still hold an important part of communal life in Fante villages among the Asafo groups.

Headless Fish

£600.00Price
  • Natural wear, tattering and stains from age will be evident in most of our flags.

  • 163 x 93 cm