Linguist Staff Postcard
The finial on this linguist staff depicts a man climbing a tree with help from another man. The image refers to an Asante proverb that states "One who climbs a good tree always gets a push," that is, if a chief's intentions are good and fair, he will have the support of his people. A ruler owns several linguist staffs in order to display the one that best visualizes the message he wishes to convey to his people at a particular time. For centuries, linguists have served Asante kings and chiefs not only as translators, but as their counselors, ambassadors, political-trouble shooters, military attachés, and historians. The linguist staff is their official symbol. Locally made gold leaf covers the wooden figures and the leafed tree which are carved separately and fastened with dowels.
Linguist staff (okyeame poma), Ghana, Asante peoples, first half of the 20th century, wood and gold leaf, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.1.McD