Africa, Ghana, ca. late 20th century CE. The Asafo or "war people" have traditionally created patchwork flags that visually represent a proverb. This hand-sewn cotton textile banner features wonderful appliqued figures and hand-embroidered details with identical images on both sides of the flag. It was displayed in ceremonial parades by the Company to which it belonged and relayed a proverbial narrative with its images. Here a member of the Company is pointing to a large shore bird that is swallowing a fish tail-first, as in the proverb, "The tall bird swallows a fish from the tail first." This is contrary to nature and serves as a reference to the extraordinary powers of the Company, since a bird naturally swallows a fish head-first in order to avoid getting the fish's spines stuck in its gullet. The two other birds and leopard refer to rival Companies who are warned not to confront the Company that owns the flag. Size: 54.5" W x 37" H (138.4 cm x 94 cm)
The canton is a replica of the Ghana national flag, indicating that the flag was created after 1957 when Ghana became an independent nation. In addition, a decorative border comprised of alternating green and tan triangles trimming the upper and lower ends as well as a fringe border further embellish the flag.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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