asofo cover

In 2001 I illustrated the book Head, Body, Legs by Won-ldy Paye and Meg Lippert. Won-ldy is a Dan storyteller from Liberia and Meg is a storyteller from the United States – together they turned a Dan origin myth that was told orally into a written tale. My first attempts to illustrate it were not African at all, as I am not African. But when I saw this book of Asafo flags I saw a way in.

asafo flag

Asofo flags were made by the Fante people of Ghana. They began as a Fante response to European flags, and became a unique and vibrant form of art.

asofo airplanes


asofo bridge

I could continue this cross pollination.

asafo tree

Here are some of the illustrations from Head, Body, Legs. I was influenced by the colors and shapes of the flags, but the illustrations were painted, not sewn.head body legs cover

4 head body legs

9 head body legs

About 6 years ago I began sewing some appliqués. I wasn’t trying to make them look like Asafo flags, but some of the shapes were similar. This illustrates a tree in Norwegian legends named Yggdrasil.Paschkis yggdrasil

I sewed the mermaid and octopus for curtains.

Paschkis mermaid appliquePaschkis octopus applique

A friend saw my appliqués and sent me this postcard of an appliqué by M. Quisuit of the Nunavut people in Baker Lake, NWT.

nunavut appliqueWhat I take from the connections between these images is that the process strongly influences the form, and that as people we are all stitched together.

Here is an Asafo flag of Funtum Yempa: a powerful and dangerous bush spirit. “A good spirit nourishes her young.”

asofo spirit


3 responses to “Asafo

  1. Julie, These are fabulous! The one about the Norwegian folk tale reminds me of Bill Traylor, a self taught former slave from Alabama. He’s a favorite of mine.


    Just spectacular! Reminds me of appliques I bought in Egypt though the subjects more hieroglyphic. I am going to look for those–I know I framed them but where are they now? Thanks for this post! Cathy Bonnell

  3. Lorenzo Zamboni

    I used to have a black T shirt that has the motif: Here is an Asafo flag of Funtum Yempa: a powerful and dangerous bush spirit. “A good spirit nourishes her young.” on it.. and loved it so much I wore it thread-bare.
    Would like to find another.. can anyone help me find one?

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