Akan Funerary Head
Culture: Akan, Asante.
Date: 18th or 19th century.
With a thermoluminescence dating analysis report R143046A by Re.S.Artes (Le Regard de la Science sur les Arts et le patrimoine culturel) Bordeaux, France.
Size: h. 20 cm (7 ¾ in.).
Provenance: ex collection Luc Delagaye, Antwerp.
Extra: The tradition of using clay figurines in funerals is known among the Akan-speaking peoples; namely the Asante, Akyem, Fante, Akwapem, Asen, Kwahu and other related people such as the Aowin and Nzema.
These people inhabit the middle belt, the Western, Central as well as the Eastern parts of the Southern region of Ghana.
Since the late sixteenth century, Akan women potters have created ceramic heads and sometimes complete figures to commemorate deceased royals and individuals of high status. During the funeral, family members placed the terracotta portraits of the deceased in a sacred grove near the cemetery, sometimes with representations of other family members. These sculptures served as the focal point for funerary rites in which libations and food were offered to the ancestors.
Photo credit: © Jean Godecharle.
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