Golden Stool of the Asante
The Golden Stool of the Asante is the throne of the ruler of the Asante kingdom and the ultimate symbol of power in Asante society. As legend has it, a high-priest late in the seventeenth-century CE made the stool to descend from the sky and land on the lap of Osei Tutu, the first Asante king. Thrones are symbols of rulership in many societies; they allow the ruler to sit while his subjects are forced to kneel or bow. Yet the Golden Stool of the Asante has particular powers. It embodies the spirit of the Asante – both the living, the dead and the yet to be born. As a sacred object it may never touch the ground and must always be placed on a blanket. It can only be handled by the ruler himself. On particularly solemn occasions the throne is itself seated on a throne.
As one would expect, the Golden Stool has been the cause of conflicts and wars. In the year 1900, when the English governor of the newly occupied colony of the Gold Coast insisted that he be allowed to sit on it, it suddenly mysteriously disappeared. It was later recovered and has been used in royal ceremonies after Ghana’s independence. The power of the Stool is intact and no one but the current Asante king and his closest advisers know its location. Copies of the stool are still used on ritual occasions. Tourist can buy cheap replicas of the stool in the market of Kumasi, the Asante capital.
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