Not on Display

This flag, known as a frankka in Fante, is an important, creative expression of the power and identity expressed by the various Asafo Companies among the Fante people of West Africa. Translating to “war (sa) people (fo),” Asafo Companies not only protect the Fante state they are a part of, but they also play a crucial role in their own communities and selection and advisement of chiefs. Flags, such as this, are utilized as displays of the power, strength, and pride of the Asafo Company. In some cases, there were also used to taunt or insult opposing Asafo Companies. This flag displays two Asafo warriors and a third figure who is carrying a bowl on top of a piece of cactus. This image matches the proverb, “We can carry water in a basket using cactus as a head cushion.” In Asafo flags, cactuses are typically used to symbolize danger. Here the Asafo company is pridefully showing its strength by claiming that it can do the impossible and are a threat to its enemies.
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The Textile Museum Collection
Accession Number:
Credit Line:
Gift of Mary Hunt Kahlenberg and Robert T. Coffland
mid 20th century
Public domain
Object Type:
111.76 L x 157.48 W cm (44 L x 62 W in)
Mattiebelle Gittinger (Author), "Words Made Manifest: Asafo Flags of Ghana", The Textile Museum Bulletin, The Textile Museum Bulletin, Washington, D.C., 2001, vol. Winter, p. 7
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Exhibition History:
Fighting Words: Proverbs in Asafo Flags of Ghana, The Textile Museum, Washington DC, May 25, 2001 - August 12, 2001
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