The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Akan Brass Casting

by Raymond Silverman
University of Michigan

14th century Egyptian brass container, Nsoko, Ghana. Photo by Raymond Silverman.


These and four other Middle Eastern basins are all that remain of one type of commodity that was imported from the north several hundred years ago to exchange for gold. Undoubtedly there were many other imported brass vessels that have not survived and probably ended up being recycled in the local (Akan) production of brass goods. One of the most impressive products of this local tradition, is the kuduo (pl. nkuduo) a container for valuables that is sometimes used in ritual contexts. A comparison of the basic profiles and surface decorations of the kuduo with 14th-15th-century Middle Eastern vessels reveals that basins and bowls like those maintained at Nsoko served as models or prototypes for the Akan tradition. However, it is important to emphasize that the imports served only as a point of departure for the Akan metal smith over time.  The creative genius of individual artists and the tastes of the people for whom nkuduo were made led to the production of forms that are distinctly Akan.