Ornament

before 1874 (made)
Ornament thumbnail 1
Ornament thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Metalware, Room 116, The Belinda Gentle Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Early European visitors to Ghana, West Africa, described dazzling displays of court regalia at the court of the Asantehene, the ruler of Asante state. The region’s natural gold resources had made the Asante wealthy and court regalia, which included textiles (kente), ivory and gold, reflected high levels of skill and technology.

This pear-shaped gold pendant probably formed part of court regalia; a loop of beaten gold attached to the top suggests it was worn around the neck or attached to a sword or state stool.

Following Asante efforts to protect a coastal trading outlet, British forces invaded the state capital Kumasi on 4 February 1874. The Asantehene, Kofi Karikari, fled leaving behind much precious regalia which was captured and later sold at auction at Garrard’s, the London crown jewellers. The Museum’s accession registers record the purchase of this and twelve other items of Asante gold and silverware from Garrard’s on 5 June 1874.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold, repoussé
Brief Description
Repoussé gold ornament, for attachment to furniture or clothing, Asante, Ghana, before 1874.
Physical Description
A pear-shaped gold pendant produced by the repoussé (hammering) technique. A loop of beaten gold attached to the top suggests it was worn around the neck or attached to a sword or state stool.
Dimensions
  • Length: 13.7cm
  • Width: 9.5cm
Style
Gallery Label
Regalia Asante people, Ghana Before 1874 The natural gold available in Ghana made the Asante people wealthy and powerful. Their court regalia, which included textiles, ivory and gold, reflected high levels of skill and technology. Much Asante gold, including most of these pieces, was taken as war indemnity by British forces following an invasion in 1874. Gold and silver Museum nos. 368:1 to 3-1874 (pipe), 369-1874 (pectoral disc), 372-1874 (ornament), 373-1874 (ornament), 374-1874 (ornament), 375-1874 (ornament), 376-1874 (bead), 377-1874 (ornament), 378-1874 (ornament), 379-1874 (spoon), 380&A-1874 (anklets) Purchased by the Museum from an auction held at Garrard's, the London crown jewellers, in 1874 Museum no. 895-1875 (ornament) Bought from Lt. Col. the Hon. J.R.W. Vesey in 1875 Museum no. M.454-1936 (ornament in the form of a bird) Bought from Mr W.C. Smith in 1936
Object history
One of thirteen items of gold/silverware which entered the V&A's collections on 5 June 1874 (Metalwork dept. accessions register facsimile) with the source listed as 'Garrard'. Following Major-General Sir Garnet Wolseley's invasion of Kumasi (capital of the then independent state of Asante, Ghana) on 4 February 1874, the palace of the Asantehene was ransacked and the Asante forced to pay a war indemnity of 50,000 ounces of gold. On return to the UK, some of this gold was auctioned by Garrard's, the London's Crown jewellers, which is almost certainly how the V&A acquired these pieces. Records of the auction were lost during the Second World War.

Displayed in "V and A Africa: Exploring Hidden Histories"

15th November 2012- 3rd February 2013
Subject depicted
Summary
Early European visitors to Ghana, West Africa, described dazzling displays of court regalia at the court of the Asantehene, the ruler of Asante state. The region’s natural gold resources had made the Asante wealthy and court regalia, which included textiles (kente), ivory and gold, reflected high levels of skill and technology.



This pear-shaped gold pendant probably formed part of court regalia; a loop of beaten gold attached to the top suggests it was worn around the neck or attached to a sword or state stool.



Following Asante efforts to protect a coastal trading outlet, British forces invaded the state capital Kumasi on 4 February 1874. The Asantehene, Kofi Karikari, fled leaving behind much precious regalia which was captured and later sold at auction at Garrard’s, the London crown jewellers. The Museum’s accession registers record the purchase of this and twelve other items of Asante gold and silverware from Garrard’s on 5 June 1874.
Collection
Accession Number
373-1874

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record createdSeptember 21, 2005
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