This mask is almost certainly a relic of the second campaign against the Ashanti in 1896 (the first was in 1874), and was probably acquired by the Pitt Rivers Museum before 1899. After the third campaign, in 1900, goldsmiths of the subjugated Ashanti and other Akan-speaking peoples turned their attention to the making of copies and trinkets for expatriates.
The hairstyle, in small skein twists, and the facial scars show that the head is not that of an Asante. The setting shows affinity with Baule work. Malcolm McLeod (personal communication) notes that it does not resemble documented Asante gold masks, and he suggests that it is a pectoral pendant rather than an ornament to be sewn on to a costume. The weight is 52.3 grammes. Analysis has shown the gold to be about 22 carats, with possible silver inclusions.
Margaret Carey, 1997
Hooper, Steven (ed.) Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American art. New Haven; London: Yale University Press in association with University of East Anglia, 1997, cat no. 92, p. 136.
Formerly in the Pitt Rivers Museum Farnham, Dorset.
Purchased by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury from K. J. Hewett in 1967.
Donated to the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia in 1973 as part of the original gift.