X88.680A Linguist staff

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Object Name: Linguist staff

Artist: Osei Bonsu (1900 – 1977)

Culture: Asante peoples

Place of Origin: Kumasi, Ghana

Date/Era: Circa 1930

Dimensions: H: 38.5 cm

Medium/Materials: Wood, gold leaf

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Steve and Linda Nelson.

Accession Number: X88.680A


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: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.