X88.680a-c Counselor’s staff

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Counseloräs staff
Artist: Osei Bonsu (Kumase, Ghana, 1900-1977)
Ghana
Circa 1930
Wood, gold leaf
H: 38.5 cm, W: 20.5 cm, D: 6.5 cm (H: 15.2 in, W: 8.1 in, D: 2.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Steve and Linda Nelson. X88.680a-c

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One of the most telling and visually striking documents of Akan regalia is the gold-leaf staff carried by the chief’s counselor on all public occasions. Its resplendent imagery communicates the status and wisdom of leadership. This staff depicts two men seated at a table with one reaching for food and the other grasping his own stomach. It recalls the maxim, ”The food is for the man who owns it and not for the man who is hungry,” an assertion that chieftaincy belongs only to the rightful owner or leader.

Source: Exhibition Wall Text: Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006

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