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Gold elephants


AOA 1900.4-27.44

Africa, Oceania, Americas

    Gold elephants

    Asante (Ashanti), 19th century AD
    From Ghana

    Gold ornaments of the Asante were often shaped into animals, birds, fish and fruit. Goldsmiths were highly specialized craftsmen who in the nineteenth century enjoyed royal patronage. They could cast major items of adornment for senior chiefs only with the permission of the Asantehene, the King of the Asante, who received taxes for the manufacture of the item.

    The goldsmiths used the lost wax method to manufacture complex and delicate shapes. The item to be cast in metal is first modelled in wax and a clay mould built around it. A hole is made through the mould then heated until the wax melts and is poured out. Molten metal is then poured through the hole into the cavity. Once cooled and hardened the mould is broken open and the casting removed and cleaned.

    M.D. McLeod, The Asante (London, The British Museum Press, 1981)


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    African crafts activity book, £6.99

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