Technology innovations introduced by the British authorities during the first quarter of the 20th century were quickly absorbed into the Asafo iconology and were used to express power and mobility over rivals.
The telegraph network from Takoradi (Fante-land) to Accra (capital city) along the coastal line of Ghana was complete in 1910 and the first airplane flew over the coastal shores of Ghana (then Gold Coast) around 1928 after WW1.
Cotton with hand sewn appliqued figures and embroidered details.
Newly made by master flag maker Baba Issaka - watch film.
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.
The Airplane + Telegraph
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.
146 x 100 cm