Fante Asafo Flags from Ghana

Asafo flags, locally called “frankaa”, are paraded on festive occasions by men’s “military” companies among the Fante people of coastal Ghana. The imagery asserts the wealth and power of the company and challenges its rivals, often through an associated proverb. The flags were made from thin flimsy imported cloth and the effect of being hung outside for days at a time in all weathers and repeated use in parades tends to mean that older pieces are often quite battered with numerous marks, holes and patches. One can think of this damage as “battle scars” testifying to their authenticity. Quite a few of the flags that we have collected over the years are now in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum and were published in their definitive catalogue “Art, Honor, and Ridicule” in 2017.