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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Monday, September 04, 2017

a foolish mouse, a cat's back

Designated Purchase Fund and Carll H. de Silver Fund, www.brooklynmuseum.org. PD
This is the top, or finial, of a staff created sometime in the 20th century. (You can see more photos of it here at the Brookyn Museum's website.)  It was carried by a particular sort of royal official among the Fante culture of Ghana and the Ivory Coast of Africa.  When I tell you that the official was known as an okyeame - a "linguist," that is, a king's spokesman - you won't be surprised to learn that this small scene illustrates a proverb, as linguist staffs of that period often did.  We're looking at a cat with a mouse climbing onto its back, which is a bad move for any mouse anywhere I'd imagine.  That's borne out by the matching proverb: "It is only a foolish mouse that tries to get into the cat's bag," or, lesser people shouldn't dare to mess with royal business.
Here's another okyeame staff at the Art Institute of Chicago which illustrates the proverb "The hen knows when it is dawn, but leaves it to the rooster to announce.”  Fante culture was found within the greater context of Asante civilization, and Asante visual art has a lot of interplay with its verbal arts.  Their proverbs are fascinating and vivid.  I'll share some more with you tomorrow.

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