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Large Comb (Duafe)

Akan, Ghana. £850

Large Finely Decorated Comb (Duafe). Akan Culture, Ghana

This Akan duafe comb incorporates a standing female figure, flanked on either side by two ‘wisdom knots’. These carved knots relate to the Akan proverb: ‘If you are weaving and the thread gets tangled, you use both hands to untie it’. The meaning of the proverb, that 'even wise men need to seek help', stresses the importance of cooperation. With both of her arms, the central figure holds up a platform depicting two chairs flanking a central stool, symbols of title and prestige.

The large size of this duafe indicates that it would have been proudly displayed in an Akan household as a prized possession. The two wisdom knots, located on either side of the figure, are hinged with wooden pins, allowing the comb to be propped up and displayed.

Among the Akan, elaborate hair combs (duafe) were typically commissioned and gifted to women by admirers or male members of the family in order to mark special occasions, such as puberty celebrations, weddings or births. The iconography and imagery of Akan duafe combs have layers of meaning, drawing on Akan legends and proverbs, while also illustrating the relationship between the woman and the man who gifted the comb.

Estimated Period: Mid-20th Century


A. Cosgrove, Duafe (Comb) IMO DARA

M. Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design, MIT Press, p. 64

(Click on images to enlarge)

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H (Incl. Stand): 44 CM
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