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.
A stylized rendering of a human face with long narrow nose, round eyes set close to bridge of nose, and open, ellipitical mouth. The head is carved in shape of a coiffure that resembles a helmet which extends down the sides of the head. The head is topped with a high arched sagital crest. Patina is dark brown in color with traces of red and blue pigment. Sheet metal cut in circles and long strips embellish the top of the head.
This carved puppet head is part of the repertory of characters 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. See also 1971/2.22 and 1971/2.23.
Signed and dated in pencil, l.r.: Alechinsky 1970 Stamp in black ink in upper l. corner of verso: Timbre/1F/50c Blind stamp of seated woman (below inked stamp): Republique Francaise (?) Embossed stamp on verso, u.l.c.: P. LOUIS NOTAIRE / (illegible)
Signed and dated in pencil, l.r.: Alechinsky 1970 Stamp in black ink in upper l. corner of recto: Timbre/1F/50c Blind stamp of seated woman (below inked stamp): Republique Francaise (?) Embossed stamp on verso, u.l.c.: