Art and Death in Southern Côte d’Ivoire

by Robert Soppelsa
US State Department / Art in Embassies (formerly Washburn University)

Ghana; Akan peoples

Commemorative head

Ceramic

H. 18.3 cm (7 3/16")

National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, 86-12-4

Here is an old sculpture, perhaps from the seventeenth or eighteenth century, from Ghana. The fine-grained surface was once probably painted or varnished a dark color, which was washed off the piece by rain over the years. Because these sculptures were left on the surface of the forest floor in uninhabited areas and often without any shelter at all (or, at best, with very little shelter), their surfaces are usually quite eroded.