flags with their representations are one of the rare forms of the African
Tribal Art which is based on figurative pictorial composition. In the making
of the flags, in fact, techniques and methods from the art of painting are
used. The significant elements in the flags, which are mirror "paintings" on
the reverse face, are
assumed by the role of the figures, the colors used and their association.
All these elements are integrated into and interact with the environment for
which these flags were created.
Asafo flag is made with a rectangle of material measuring 80 to 120 centimeters
by 100 to 200 centimeters.
The top left or right hand corner is occupied by a representation of the
British ‘Union Jack’ (photo 23) or the national flag of Ghana. The central
field is used for applying symbolic and allegorical figures
mirrored front and back created in fabric from cardboard templates, (photo 24
and 25). The flags are usually with a decorative linear border or geometric
designs in diverse colors to which might also be applied a decorative
to these characteristics, we find numerous variations including, for
example: the omission of the border or the national flag, the representation
of images using painting techniques, the central area created with various
colors and different types of material and so on.
major part, the material used to make the flags is cotton but sometimes silk
or felt is used. The materials employed were mainly imported from India,
Japan, Great Britain and also from Italy. The choice of colors to use for
the background was not casual as each company had its own special color.
flags were sewn by hand both when putting together the various parts and
applying the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic elements of the mirror images
which represent proverbs or traditional scenes. The chain stitching
technique was functional in terms of embroidering the details of the
first decades of the 20th century, some artist began to use the sewing
machine which, in the mean time, had arrived in Ghana and made its use into
a personal artistic characteristic. In any case, apart from these isolated
examples, the flags made up on the sewing machine have been made more
independence was achieved in 1957, the national flag of Ghana replaced the
‘Union Jack’ but flags continued to be produced with the Union Jack. This
was probably in memory of past glories or to produce copies of old, worn out
flags are normally allegorical representations of proverbs, metaphors,
maxims and traditions connected with the Akan culture which, were
traditionally handed down orally. These proverbs play a fundamental role and
are a structural part of the social reality of the Akan (photo 26).
the flags were made in remembrance of a relevant event which happened in a
certain village and in this case there is no connection to a proverb. This
highlights the fact that some flags when removed from their specific context
cannot be interpreted unless one is in possession of the fundamental
elements necessary for an accurate analysis of the events which took place.