Linguist's Staff, 20th century

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The linguist's staff is carried by the okyeame, an Asante chief's principal counselor and spokesman. It is transferred from his right to his left hand when he is about to speak. The okyeame is the link between the chief and his people, and is very knowledgeable and eloquent. It is his job to "sweeten" the chief's words. The finial that tops this staff represents two proverbs that the Asante, and other tribes in the Akan language group use as law, or to illustrate correct behavior and values. One proverb corresponds to the man holding a box on his head: As long as the head remains, one cannot avoid carrying loads about. It alludes to the inevitability of work-that one must work for things in life. Another proverb applies to the man pointing to the sky: Except God. It provides the exception to the first proverb.

Details
Title
Linguist's Staff
Role
Artist
Accession Number
98.249.14a-c
Curator Approved

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