Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
Of the Asante type shown below the British Museum says Quote"~...
A state sword (afena) with slightly curved cast iron blade, pierced along the lower cutting edge with two arrow-shaped voids and an equal-arm cross motif. These voids are surrounded by punched line and dot patterns. Near the hilt there are two incised grooves filled with a herringbone pattern and five circular punch marks. The wooden hilt is bar-bell-shaped and has distinctive rounded pommels either end of the grip. The hilt is decorated with a series of carved geometric designs which were originally covered with gold leaf secured by small gold-covered (?) staples but only a small amount remains in place.
Length: 34 centimetres
Width: 4.5 centimetres
Fair, extensive loss of gold leaf on carved hilt, with remianing traces in a fragile condition.
It is not known when swords were introduced into area now known as Ghana but early examples probably derive from Islamic weapons that were passed down the trans-Saharan trade routes. The use of swords in Akan society was recorded by the end of the sixteenth century and they have continued to play a significant role in ritual and ceremonial contexts ever since. There are several distinct types of state swords normally found in the regalia of an important leader or paramount chief. By far the most important of the ceremonial swords are the keteanofena (literally; edge of the sleeping mat swords) which are revered and are passed from one ruler to his successor as a major portion of state regalia. This group is composed of two major sub-divisions the akrafena and the bosomfena. Akrafena, or ‘swords of the soul’ are used, as their name suggests, in fairly restricted, often private rituals for the purification of the ruler’s soul and the purification of the blackened state stools while swords in the second division the bosomfena play a more varied and public role.
These two groups of swords embody and represent two distinct spiritual elements; those on the Asantehene’s right (akrafena) represent his soul or life-force (kra), those on the left (bosomfena), his ego, spirit or personality (sunsum) that was inherited from his father. Elders also swear allegiance to their ruler on these swords and they may be carried as badges of office for a ruler’s messengers.
This small sword is the same shape as the larger state swords which suggests that it functioned in a similar way." Unquote.