Thin, double-side, H-shaped bronze sculpture. Each side is made up of a collection of rough rectangle shapes overlapping and butting up against one another. Two rectangle-shaped openings penetrate the piece.
The artist is interested in the synthesis between idea, material, and form in abstract sculpture.
Goldweight in the shape of a man with a large head, tilted slightly backwards, on a thick, heavy neck, and topped by hair or headgear in the shape of a ball; the face has protruding eyes and nose, and the mouth holds a snake-like animal above a small beard (goatee). The figure is wearing a loincloth and holds a short stick under the left arm as well as two small jars in the hands.
Goldweights are small objects cast from brass used to weigh out quantities of gold and gold dust. They are cast using a lost-wax casting technique, wherein wax is sculpted into the desired shape and a mold is pressed around the wax model. Then, the mold is heated and the wax drained out, leaving a void in the shape of the original wax model. Liquid brass is poured into the mold and allowed to set before the caster cracks the mold open and retrieves the finished goldweight.
From about 1400 to 1900, the Asante and related Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire used small, portable weights for measuring out units of gold dust. At first, the gold weights were primarily geometric, following North African, European and Middle Eastern examples. From the 18th century onwards, figurative weights became popular, although geometric weights continued to be made too. This weight is a figurative weight, but it is not clear whether there was a particular meaning (often in the form of a proverb) attached to this piece.
Goldweight in the shape of a man, wearing a loin cloth and wielding a hoe against a large, oval object, sitting on a flat, square base.
The Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire have long used weights to weigh the gold dust exchanged in mercantile transactions. Figurative weights such as this one begin to appear in the 18th century, and some of these representations might be associated with one or more of the many proverbs that play a crucial role in many Akan societies. This does not mean that the interpretation of the meaning attached to a particular gold weight is always straightforward. For example, this example of a man wielding a hoe might refer to the proverb, "In order to survive one must work"-- a reference to the importance of hard work. But in another context, an individual might use the same material form of the hoe to convey a very different message: the feeling that the branching tree of one's family has been severed from its roots because one's mother has died. In order to understand the socio-cultural context for this message, it helps to know that most Akan-speaking peoples are matrilineal, and also that the hoe here is often associated with cemeteries and death. Yet even with this background information, the interpretation remains open-ended, because there is no direct correspondence between the figure and its message.
Goldweight in the shape of a human figure, kneeling with buttocks on the heels and the hands at the side of the head, wearing elaborate headgear. Evidence of calcification.
Representations of humans are not uncommon among the goldweights used and produced by Akan-speaking peoples in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire between the 15th and 19th centuries. When the figures represent an identifiable scene, they are often associated with a particular proverb, which is easily read off from the scene depicted. However, in the case of singular figures such as this one, the link with a proverb is much more tenuous, if there is one at all.
An Asante proverb states, "The cobra that blocks the path is going his own way, yet people run away when they see him." According to some informants, this means that once you get a bad reputation, nobody will trust you even when you mean no harm.
The link between the above proverb and the gold weight under consideration here is an example of the "oral-visual nexus" that pervades the cultures of the various Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Proverbs are indeed an important part of many Akan cultures, and the proper use of proverbs in speech is a crucial skill in order to be considered a serious or wise person. Yet the use and interpretation of a proverb depends not just on knowing its meaning, but on its relevance and particular nuance in the context of its use as well. The problem of ascribing a singular meaning becomes confounded in the case of gold weights or other objects embodying particular proverbs. In fact, the one-on-one relationship between a weight and a proverb is rare, especially in case of single-subject weights, such as this snake (detailed scenes involving two or more objects are often easier to link unambiguously to a particular proverb).
Crocodiles are a common form for the goldweights that have been used and produced by the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire since the 15th century. In fact, the representation of crocodiles is by no means restricted to weights and is seen on many other Akan art forms as well, particularly those associated with the king, the queen-mother, and the court. Indeed, crocodiles often stand for the king himself-- both are thought to have a versatile character. A number of proverbs relate to crocodiles as well, such as: "The crocodile is in the water but it also breathes air" and "The great (or old) crocodile swallows a stone every year." The latter might either be interpreted as a proverb, meaning that misfortune comes every year and must be accepted as a part of life, or as a royal appellation, in which the king is compared to a great crocodile.
Stylized wood carving of hyena head; two pieces of wood joined to form articulating jaw. edged with prominent teeth. short upright ears, long triangular nose or snout; eyes, teeth, nose and crown of head overlaid with sheet metal. Wood is unpainted.
This hyena rod puppet head is a character featured in the Sogo bò, a puppet masquerade performed by Bamana youth organizations. Still active today, Sogo bò--literally, “the animal comes forth”-- is an important dramatic venue for youth to explore and comment on the tensions between traditional values and contemporary experience. The hyena is especially rich in cultural associations. Depending on the story or subject being performed, he may represent shamelessness, cunning, the inflexibility of custom, even the power to heal.
A naturalistic rendering of a ram, with striations incised into the top of the head and down the first third of the horns which sweep forward in a natural curve toward the nose. Eyes inlaid with green glass, and muzzle is overlaid with strip of metal. Jaw articulates, tied with cord. Cloth ears are attached and dangle on either side of head. Wood is unpainted.
This rod puppet ram's head is a character featured in the Sogo bò, a puppet masquerade performed by Bamana youth organizations. Still active today, Sogo bò--literally, “the animal comes forth”-- is an important dramatic venue for youth to explore and comment on the tensions between traditional values and contemporary experience. Of all the characters created for the Sogo bò, animals such as the ram and hyena (see 1971/2.21) were among the oldest and continue to appear in different guises.
A highly decorated wooden chair with a single arched backing rod for support. There are large bulb-like posts on top with graphic decorations throughout. There are large metal domed hardware on the seat and upper posts.