One of the fundamental aspects within Asafo groups is music & instruments such as the speaking drums.

The Asafo kyin or "kyen" are special paramilitary drums which are often played to convey messages or send information across to its members and the community members at large.

It is also used to entertain members of the group, the community and in ceremonies to mourn the deceased.

During laborious work such as fishing - Asafo members harmonize poetic songs often played on the Asafo kyin which energises its members to work harder in order to complete tasks.

 

Black + white photo of the Bentsir No. 1 Asafo company, Cape Coast
(date unknown)

c. 1950s

 

Cotton hand sewn appliqued figures + embroidered details.
*stains / scattered minor holes + mould spots due to age*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Speaking Drum

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

     

    We provide a conservation service:

    Most damage to textiles is age-related; over time, works may discolor, fade, darken, and deteriorate causing splits and losses in the material. The conservator stabilizes the textiles using delicate stitching and conservation mounting where applicable.

  • 136 x 76