Worn in multiples, cast gold rings (mbetea) have featured prominently in Akan chiefly regalia since at least the sixteenth century. Drawn from a visual pool of some one hundred motifs, ring ensembles simultaneously display material wealth, amplify gestures, and reveal something of the wearer’s character. The starburst or spoke motif of this toe or finger ring represents a stylized insect cocoon, an allusion to the proverb “it is a puzzle to know how the caterpillar entered its cocoon; did it build it before entering it or did it build it around itself?” A reference to the unimaginable power of the chief, the proverb approximates the saying “appearances can be deceiving.”
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