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Object Name
Label Text
Circular pendants hammered from the thinnest of gold or cast by the lost-wax process are traditionally worn around the neck of court officials who maintain the spiritual well being of Akan rulers and their land. These emblems of office are known as soul washer's badges and each bears designs that speak to the royal context in which they are worn. For instance, the fern depicted at the center of the pendant with its cord still intact refers to the Asante proverb, "the king does not fear insults."
Embossed gold circular disk ornamented with a small half-circle at the top and bottom. A small metal loop is attached to either side of one half-circle and from one side of the other half-circle (second loop missing). Five concentric circles of raised decorative motifs radiate out from the conical center. To suspend the cord around the neck, multiple strands of vegetal fiber cord have been twisted together and knotted, leaving a single strand at each side to attach to the flattened gold loops on either side at the back of the pendant. Examination of the disk's thin surface reveals several cracks, local repairs and dark discolorations, suggesting wear and use.
Opanin Kwame Bonsu (goldsmith, now deceased), Kumasi, Ghana, purchased from a prominent citizen of Kumawu, Ashanti Region, Ghana, -- to c. 1988
Ali Barry, Dichemso-Kumasi, Ghana, c. 1988 to 1989
Albert Nuamah, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, acquired in Ghana, 1989 to 2008
Exhibition History
Good As Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., October 24, 2018-February 2, 2020; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, April 4-July 5, 2020
African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 20-December 9, 2012; Newark Museum, February 26-August 11, 2013; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, August 23-November 30, 2014; Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, Atlanta, January 31-June 21, 2015
African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010-November 13, 2013 (deinstalled March 22, 2012)
Inauguration 2009, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., January 17-March 2, 2009
Published References
Maples, Amanda, Ashby Johnson, Marian, and Dumouchelle, Kevin D., 2018, Good As Gold, Washington, D.C.: NMAfA, Smithsonian, p. 19, illustrated p. 20
Credit Line
Museum purchase
See more items in
National Museum of African Art Collection
Good as Gold
On View
NMAfA, Second Level Gallery (2193)
NMAfA, South Gallery (1141)
Late 19th-early 20th century
Object number
Asante artist
Repoussé gold, plant fiber, metal
H x W x D: 3 x 18 x 15 cm (1 3/16 x 7 1/16 x 5 7/8 in.)
National Museum of African Art
Costume Accessory