Asante royal thrones
According to legend, Okomfo Anokye
Okomfo Anokye
Okomfo Anokye was an Ashanti priest, statesman and lawgiver. He occupies a Merlin-like position in Ashanti history. A co-founder of the Empire of Ashanti in West Africa, he helped establish its constitution, laws, and customs....

 (High Priest and one of the two chief founders of the Asante Confederacy) caused the famous Asante royal throne known as the Golden Stool (Asante: Sika 'dwa) to descend from the heavens and land on the lap of the first Asante king, Osei Tutu. Such seats were traditionally symbolic of a chieftain's leadership, but the Golden Stool is believed to house the spirit of the Asante
Asante may mean:*The Ashanti people of Ghana*The Ashanti Confederacy, a pre-colonial state in West Africa.*Asante Kotoko, a football club*Empire of Ashanti The ancient state of the ashanti that was powerful around the West African region...

 nation--living, dead and yet to be born.

Symbology and ritual

Each stool
A chair is a stable, raised surface used to sit on, commonly for use by one person. Chairs are most often supported by four legs and have a back; however, a chair can have three legs or could have a different shape depending on the criteria of the chair specifications. A chair without a back or...

 is understood to be the seat of the owner's soul and when not in use is propped against a wall so that other souls passing by may relax on it. The royal throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

 must never touch the ground; instead it is placed on a blanket. During inauguration, a new king is raised and lowered over the stool without touching it. A throne is carried to the king on a pillow, as only the Asantehene himself is allowed to handle it.

Historical conflict

Several wars have broken out over the ownership of the royal throne. In 1896, Asantehene Prempeh I was deported rather than risk losing both the war and the throne. In 1900, Sir Frederick Hodgson, the Governor of the Gold Coast
Gold Coast (British colony)
The Gold Coast was a British colony on the Gulf of Guinea in west Africa that became the independent nation of Ghana in 1957.-Overview:The first Europeans to arrive at the coast were the Portuguese in 1471. They encountered a variety of African kingdoms, some of which controlled substantial...

, demanded to be allowed to sit on the Golden Stool, and ordered that a search for it be conducted. This provoked an armed rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool
War of the Golden Stool
The War of the Golden Stool, also known as the Yaa Asantewaa War, the Third Ashanti Expedition, the Ashanti Uprising, or variations thereof, was the final war in a series of conflicts between the British Imperial government of the Gold Coast and the Empire of Ashanti, a powerful, semi-autonomous...

 which resulted in the annexation of Ashanti to the British Empire, but preserved the sanctity of the Golden Stool. In 1920, African road workers discovered the stool and stripped some of the gold ornaments. They were taken into protective custody by the British before being tried according to local custom and sentenced to death. The British intervened and the group was instead banished. An assurance of non interference with the stool was then given by the British and it was brought out of hiding.

In 1935 the stool was used in the ceremony to crown Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II.

Appearance and craftsmanship

The Golden Stool is a curved seat 46 cm high with a platform 61 cm wide and 30 cm deep. Its entire surface is inlaid with gold, and hung with bells to warn the king of impending danger. It has not been seen by many and only the king, queen, true prince Ofosu Sefa Boakye, and trusted advisers know the hiding place. Replicas have been produced for the chiefs and at their funerals are ceremonially blackened with animal blood, a symbol of their power for generations. The stool is one of the main focal points of the Asante today because it still shows succession and power.

Each stool is made from a single block of wood and carved with crescent-shaped seats, flat bases and complex support structure. The many designs and symbolic meanings mean that every stool is unique; each has a different meaning for the person whose soul it seats. Some designs contain animal shapes or images that recall the person who used it. The general shape of Asante stools has been copied by other cultures and sold worldwide.
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