Brass bell or gong in the form of a human head. A loop on the top would have served as a handhold or place to tie the instrument. The opening of the the instrument is squared and flat in order to rest upright.
Gongs are used in Yoruba communities for communication, music, and religious ceremonies. This gong belonged to an ogboni secret society. The ogboni societies have religious and civic functions. Gongs were used by the ogboni to swear in witnesses in disputes. The gong calls ancestral spirits to hear the testimony and will punish those who give false testimony.
A poised, naturalistic male figure sits on a stool, holding an egg in his right hand, his left hand resting on his left knee. The head is round, almost egg-shaped, with a high, sloping forehead rising from pronounced eyebrows. The eyes are almond-shped, the nost long and slender, the mouth a small straight line. The neck is long and ringed. Its surface is smooth, and carefully finished, golden brown in color, though worn or mottled in places.
Seated on a royal stool--considered the soul of the Asante people--with an egg in his hand, this figure depicts a proverb that cautions the powerful to be firm but prudent in their rule: “To be a ruler is like holding an egg in the hand; if it is pressed too hard it breaks, but if not held tightly enough it may slip and smash on the ground.” A popular motif of the Asante court, it was often used to decorate the tops of linguist staffs, which were emblems of authority used by the ruler’s spokesmen during public ceremonies. However, this particular figure--carved by the acclaimed artist Osei Bonsu--is what Bonsu himself called a “parlor piece,” that is, a genre of work commissioned by local Asante and expatriate elites to decorate their homes.