Fante Asafo Flag Textile
This striking quilt-like textile will add a depth of character to any room as a wall hanging or thrown over a bed.
The Fante people live along the coast of Ghana in fishing villages. Asafo "companies" developed as military organizations of young men in the Fante villages, adopting flags and other European-inspired regalia which they gradually modified for local use. As well as defending the village against local enemies and incursions by the Asante, the two or more companies in each community developed intense local rivalries, which were acted out during festivals and other ceremonial occasions. The active fighting role of the Asafo companies ended with the British colonial takeover late in the nineteenth century, but they remain key associations in the ritual life of Fante villages.
Flags, called frankaa, are a key item of Asafo regalia. Each man who wishes to join the society commissions a new flag from the local flag maker, usually giving him instructions as to the design. The imagery on the flags asserts the wealth and prowess of the company and explicitly challenges rival groups. Often the design alludes to proverbs, an important part of the culture Flags made before Ghanaian independence in 1957 have a version the British Union Jack flag in the corner, after that date some incorporate the Ghana flag instead.
Flags are still being made and used as an important part of communal life in Fante villages today. Their direct and striking imagery has also made them highly collectable outside Ghana.