The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Military Arts of the Fante

by Doran Ross
Formerly Fowler Museum, UCLA

Sculptural detail from posuban, No. 2 Company, Gomoa Legu, Fante, Ghana, 1976. Photo by Doran H. Ross.

The elephant with its trunk wrapped around a palm tree represents the saying, “Only the elephant can pull down the palm tree.” The elephant is seen as the strongest in the animal kingdom and the palm the strongest in the plant world (“It bends, but it does not break”). This is, of course, a statement of superiority of No. 2 Company over its rival No. 1 Company. Such boasts and insults are often the norm in Asafo verbal/visual imagery (see Ross 1980 for a full discussion of this shrine and Ross 1992 for more on elephant imagery).