Counselor's Staff (Okyeame Poma) (Primary Title)

Possibly, Osei Bonsu, Ashanti (Asante), Ghana, 1900 - 1977 (Artist)

mid-20th century
wood, gold leaf
Overall: 65 1/2 × 7 × 8 1/2 in. (166.37 × 17.78 × 21.59 cm)
In many world cultures, gold and other valued materials are associated with both spiritual and temporal power. This gilded staff was the symbol of office for a linguist, a trained orator who spoke on behalf of the Asante ruler of Ghana. The gold leaf that covers the staff was strictly controlled by the Asante kings. The rooster and hen carved on the hilt illustrate an Asante proverb that asserts the prerogatives of the ruling elite: "Although the hen knows that the dawn is breaking, she leaves it to the rooster to announce."
Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund
Falling in Love Again. VMFA, Philip Morris Gallery, July 1 - September 25, 1994.

Spirit of the Motherland. Art Museum of Western Virginia, September 1995 - December 1995; Peninsula Fine Arts Center, January 1996 - May 1996.

Africa: The Art of a Continent. Geuggenheim Museum, June 5, 1996 - September 29, 1996.

Look Here: Dazzle, VMFA, November 2, 2005 - January 29, 2006.
Margaret Lazzari, Dona Schlesier: Exploring Art: A Global, Thematic Approach w/PAC, 4th edition, (Florence, KY: Cengage Learning, Inc., 2011) color fig. 2.6, p. 27, Photo credits: p. 478& website:, first displayed 2011, Term: five years

Margaret Lazzari & Dona Schlesier, Exploring Art A Global, Thematic Approach 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008) p. 26, color ill. no. 2.5, p. 29.

Barriault, Anne B., and Kay M. Davidson. Selections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. (pp 6-7)

Anne Barriault, Selections Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1997) p. 39, ill. (color), detail p. 36 (color).

Africa The Art of a Continent 100 Works of Power and Beauty ex. cat. (New York: The Guggenheim Museum, 1995) pp. 144-145, cat. no. 72, ill.

Richard B. Woodward, African Art (Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1994) pp. 34-35, ills.

Sandra Rusak, "Instructional Resources: African Art: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts," Art Education: The Journal of the National Art Education Association, Sept. 1996, Vol. 49, No. 5, pp. 27-28 (illus. p. 28); 46.

"Africa: The Power of a Continent: 100 Works of Power and Beauty," exh. cat., (New York: The Guggenheim Museum, 1995)pp. 144-145, cat. no. 72, ill.

"The 'Spirit Will Move You," Richmond Times-Dispatch September 18, 1994, detail ill. p. J-1 (color)
© artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.