Linguist Staff

Like all sub Saharan Africa the Ashanti group of the Akan people do not have written tradition and have to rely on oral history.  The Linguist, or Okyeame, worked directly for the Chief and acted as the historian and  legal expert, while also acting as the intermediary between the chief and its people. He  would be identified by carrying a gilded staff, which is said to have derived from the first linguist, who was an old woman that needed the staff due to her old age.

Each staff has a carved image at the top that depicts a proverb. This one shows two men sitting together, one of them eating, and is the proverb “Food is for the one who owns it, not for the one who is hungry,” indirectly  expressing that the throne is for the person who inherits it, not for the people who want it. This staff would have likely been brought into a meeting where someone is challenging the ruler’s throne.

Circa: First half 20th Century

Origin: Ghana

Material: Wood, gold and black paint

Condition: Excellent, mounted

Dimensions: 57" tall, base is 6.5"x6.5"

Inventory number: DL1084



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