Photos At the 25th Anniversary Jubilee celebrations of Ghana’s Asantehene, the Chief Sword Bearer accompanies the king. His duty it is to absorb evil intent directed toward the monarch. He is recognised by an eagle feather headdress featuring a pair of gilt ram’s horns.The Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II, is carried to his Silver Jubilee in a Palanquin. He is shielded from the sun by enormous umbrellas fashioned from silk damask, reflecting the wealth and power of the Ashanti Kingdom. Special attendants run alongside the palanquin supporting the weight the king’s arms laden with gold jewelry.The most honoured guest at the Jubilee is the Queen Mother, Nana Afua Kobi, who arrives in her palanquin surrounded by fan bearers. Known as Asantehemaa, she is regarded as the true mother of the nation, the most powerful woman in its matrilineal society, and the one who is responsible for the selection of the King.The Chief Sword Bearer, carries the symbol of his office, a legendary ceremonial sword called Mponponsuo with a snake on its handle, which is used whenever allegiance is sworn to the king. From his neck hang leather amulets covered with gold leaf. Before the ceremony, this jewellery is ritually washed and the liquid is then sprinkled on the king and his court to protect their souls and those of the nation.Paramount chiefs from all over the Ashanti nation arrive to honour the king. They are shielded from the sun by enormous umbrellas fashioned from silk damask, reflecting the wealth and power of their owners.The golden stool, is so precious that not even the monarch may sit on it. The stool is believed to be the source of the nation’s strength and bravery, the Ashanti have gone to war several times to protect it. It must never touch the ground and must be “fed” at regular intervals, for if it should become hungry, it might sicken and die, and with it would perish the Ashanti Kingdom. Believed to have descended from heaven in a peal of thunder in the 18thC, it serves as both a shrine, a sacred symbol and a repository of ancestral forces.The bunch of keys carried by the key bearer shows that every door in the Ashanti palace is locked. Thus, the building is secure.Sitting in state at the Jubilee, the Asantehene wears robes made from traditional Kente cloth. Known as “the cloth that befits kings.”, Kente denotes prestige and elicits both respect and humility from all those who understand its symbolism. It is woven with motifs that refer to traditional proverbs concerning kingship and culture. Accompanying the Asantehene is the Chief Sword Bearer whose duty is to absorb evil intent directed toward the monarch. The Sword Bearer carries a legendary ceremonial sword called Mponponsuo and wears an eagle-feather headdress featuring a pair of gilt rams horns.This sword bearer wears a gold washed head piece and a pectoral disc marking his role as a soul washer charged with absorbing any evil aimed at the king.This young dancer is adorned with gold belonging to the royal treasury, among which are large breast-shaped plaques brought out at state ceremonies. Her bracelets are made from hollow-cast gold beads threaded together with ancient glass beads, which are even more valuable than the gold.An Adioukrou Queen Mother indicates her status by wearing gold turtle and crocodile talismans in her hair. Her jewelry symbolizes her husband’s substantial authority and worth. This ostentatious display is known as the “coming of wealth” ritual, and publicly declares that a man has reached an impressive stage in the accumulation of riches. Sprinkled on her face is gold dust, once the main currency of all Akan people.Female court dancers perform the Adowa, a traditional Ashanti dance that delights the royal assembly with provocative movements and complex foot work.Ashanti paramount chiefs delight in the festive atmosphere: the chief greets his subjects with joy from his palanquin. Following him are large wooden Fontomfrom drums which “speak” of the king’s ancestry Ashanti paramount chiefs delight in the festive atmosphere: the chief greets his subjects with joy from his palanquin. Following him are large wooden Fontomfrom drums which “speak” of the king’s ancestry.Safeguarding his chief, a young Soul Bearer wears a gilded ram’s horn headdress, gold amulets and feathers. These talismans protect the chief from danger.The principal spokesmen for Ashanti chiefs are called linguists, or Okyeame, who act as intermediaries between leaders and those who wish to address them. The Akan say “a linguist makes the chief’s words sweet” and “there are no bad chiefs, only bad messengers”. They repeat the words of both speakers in a highly poetic language, and a chief’s fame can depend on their eloquence. The Asantehene has thirteen senior and three junior linguists: most paramount chiefs have between four and eight. The linguists carry a distinctive staff, a symbol of authority, called Okyeame Poma, with carved and gilded finals representing proverbs. Nuggets of traditional wisdom, these proverbs address subjects and situations with cautionary wit.The Proverbs illustrated by these linguist staffs are: Top Left: “No matter how fat the frog grows it can never surpass the mudfish.”( A chief rules despite the power of his peers.) Top Centre: “The power of the eagle shows not only in the air but on land.” Top Right:“The chief holds the key to the treasury.” Bottom Left: “When the kite’s away the hawk sits on its eggs.” (In the king’s absence the throne is always guarded by his kin.” Bottom Centre: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Bottom Right: “Food is for the man who owns it, not for the hungry man.” (Work before enjoyment)This Ashanti paramount chief wears a medallion and headband decorated with stylized moon and star motifs, reflecting the proverb, “The evening star, desirous of being married, always stays close to the moon.” The design signifies fidelity, both of a husband to his wife, and of a subject to his king.Top Left: The gold jewelry worn by Ashanti royal guests at the Jubilee is not only visually impressive but also bears powerful symbolic meaning. Bottom Left: The starburst ring seen on the hand of the Ashanti chief is named after a delicious fruit, and reflects the proverb, “It may not speak, but it breathes,” suggesting a leader who is calm but able to exert authority when opposed. The smaller ring features a palm beetle design, which refers to a proverb that teaches patience is a virtue. Top Right: The Asantehene rests his feet on a footstool that prevents evil spirits entering his body from the ground. Bottom Right: The sandals of Akan chiefs are covered with protected gold-leaf talismans.The Asantehene often wears a gold ring on every finger, each one referring to his exalted personality traits. His arms are so heavily laden with gold jewelry that when he moves they must be supported by a special attendant.