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Ashanti

Cap (krobonkye) nineteenth century

Leather, gold | 14.5 x 19.5 x 9.5 cm (whole object) | RCIN 62904

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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  • A kidney-shaped cap (krobonkye) of dark brown leather, probably antelope skin, cut in a latticework chevron pattern, with applied bands of thin hammered gold affixed by wire. The main strips are in the form of a crocodile decorated with regular repoussé indentation in imitation of scaly skin. To either side of the crocodile are two curved gold strips in the form of snakes and six six-pointed stars, the whole surmounted by a gold finial.

    Caps of this kind were worn by state sword-bearers and other officials on important occasions. The crocodile may be a symbol of adaptability, admired in Ashanti culture for its ability to live in water, yet breathe air.
    Provenance

    Said to have been taken from King Kofi Karikari, King of the Ashanti (c.1837-1884), at Kumasi. It is almost certainly one of the objects seized by British troops during the Anglo-Ashanti War of 1873-74, when the palace of the defeated Asantehene was looted. Numerous gold items and textiles were removed by Sir Garnet Wolseley's forces, while other gold pieces were paid to the British as settlement of the government's indemnity claim. Some of these objects were sold at a public auction in Cape Coast prior to the troops' return to England; others were bought by Garrard & Co. in London for £11,000 and sold by them in the spring of 1874.

    It is not known how this piece entered the Collection. It is first recorded in the North Corridor Inventory, begun in 1866, at Windsor Castle with the note, 'Taken from Coffee King of Ashantee at Coomassie' (no. 1205).

  • Creator(s)
  • Medium and techniques

    Leather, gold

    Measurements

    14.5 x 19.5 x 9.5 cm (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    Ghana