Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana | Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costumes

  • A red flag with a large black whale and a schooner.
    Made for an unidentified Fante Nynkumase Company between 1925 and 1950. This flag depicts the idea that technological superiority may often overcome natural strength.
  • Man stands in a room with heaps of fabric.
    Flag maker Baba Issaka in his workshop in Swedru in August 2014.
  • Man dances and waves flag with a group of spectators.
    Flag dancer from Dentsifo No.2 Company Gomoa Dago performing during the 2014 Akwambo festival.
  • Man dancing with flag.
    The Ghanaian flag is an emblem frequently used in Asafo displays. Here a dancer from Tuafo No 1 Company Gomoa Dago performs with the national flag during the 2014 Akwambo festival.
  • Flags hanging from a wire stretched between street poles.
    Asafo flags strung from the shrine of Dentsifo No.2 Company Gomoa Dago on the second day of the 2014 Akwambo festival.

Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana

Until September 4, 2017

The ROM’s new exhibition, Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana takes a historical and contemporary look at Asafo flags. These flags are the insignia created for the numerous military Asafo companies of the Fante states along the coast of Southern Ghana. Historically, Asafo companies were in charge of the safety and protection of the local community as well as warfare. Today they act as the vibrant core of local communities. Their flags depict narratives of pride, wisdom, and defiant messages to enemies and are sacred objects depicting the spirit and history of a company.

Featuring stunning handcrafted flags, brilliant costumes, artifacts and stirring videos, Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags of South Ghana, brings life to the amazing stories behind the Asafo flags and the people who conceive and wave them.


Silvia Forni

Curator (African Arts and Cultures)


Comment by Ana Beltrame

I would like to know, if possible, why did you add the word "ridicule" to the title of the Asafo flags exhibition. It's different, it's unusual, but I can't see any particular ridicule on it.

I respect your opinion, for certainly you know much more than I, so I would appreciate if you explain me what is seen as ridicule in the Asafo flags.

Comment by Lead Concierge

Asafo flags are often used as a way to ridicule opponents. They send defiant messages by which one company asserts their superiority over others, often metaphorically portraying their opponents as helpless and foolish.  Thus ridicule is very much part of the visual and performative dimensions of these artworks.

Comment by Lead Concierge

The catelogue for this exhibition is scheduled to be on sale in our store at the end of April.