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Double-Figured Staff Finial

African Art

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Double-Figured Staff Finial

Artwork Details


Akan Artist, Ghana


Late nineteenth–early twentieth century


Wood, brass tacks, white beads, and fiber

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


This finial was once situated atop a staff that was used as a portable shrine to commemorate ancestors. In Akan culture, ancestors look over their descendents and promote their well-being. The upper, bearded figure represents an ancestral spirit and is seated on a standing male figure’s shoulders, serving as his guide. In Baule communities of the Ivory Coast, to be possessed is to have a spirit “fall upon” one. The possessed person is “ridden,” guided by the ancestral spirit.


Purchase with funds from Fred and Rita Richman