The Many Powers of Gold: Akan Art

West Africa, Ghana. Akan (Asante) artist: Disk pendant or pectoral badge (akrafokɔnmu), late 19th century. Gold, diam. 7.2 cm. Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund (y1982-17). Photo: Bruce M. WhiteA common language (Twi) and visual culture link the Akan peoples of present-day Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. For more than three hundred years, Akan artists have drawn inspiration from nearly seven thousand proverbs, translating words into visual symbols that express local religious, political, and cultural values as well as the wealth, power, and character of the works' owners. Royal regalia and objects of personal adornment made in wood, metal, and textiles provide examples of Akan artists’ techniques, including lost wax casting, gold leafing, and weaving.

This resource is organized into three thematic sections that highlight particular aspects of Akan art:

See all of the Akan works in the Museum’s collection of African arts here.

Kristen Windmuller-Luna *16


Kristen Windmuller-Luna was awarded a PhD from Princeton University in 2016. Now the Collections Research Specialist for African Arts at the Princeton University Art Museum, she was previously the Andrew W. Mellon Research Assistant (2013–14) and a McCrindle Academic Year Intern (2015). Revised in 2017, this online Collection Theme was originally produced in 2014 to coincide with a reinstallation of the Akan collection.