Flag Asafo - 'Fruit Tree'
The ‘Asafo Flags’ have an interesting significance and history. The Fante people who live along the Ghana coast, traded extensively with Europeans, and were avid buyers of imported cloth. Lacking a standing army, during the 17th century the Fante organized military groups called ‘Asafo’, the name is derived from ‘sa’ meaning war and ‘fo’ meaning people.
During this colonisation period the ‘Asafo’ people began adopting European and British military practices such as naming and numbering their states and companies and fighting under a flag. The earliest flags may have been painted or drawn on raffia cloth but, as is the case today, most flags were made of appliquéd trade cloth. The marking of a special occasions or the installation of a new ‘Asafo’ captain are the main motivations for the creation of a new flag. The flags are displayed at different social events including annual festivals, ceremonies and funerals. Simple imagery that is always unique would either depict an historical event, identify the company with an animal or image of power or depict a confrontational proverb to threaten other companies.
Patchwork Applique, cut edges to produce fringing, colour, symbolic scenes and mirrored image on both sides are typical of an Asafo Flag, where many carried the Union Jack until Ghana claimed independence in 1957. Since the 1900’s these flags have become highly collectable outside of Ghana, they are still made and used today as an important part of communal life in Fante villages.
Asafo Flag Fruit Tree dates to early to mid 20th century, measuring 90cm x 150cm.
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