Symbolism of the Parrot

It was a sunny, late-November afternoon when my husband and I went to the local museum and explored the African gallery at Newfields, formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I was captivated by the elaborate masks, intricate bead work, and other artifacts in the gallery. The particular artifact that prompted this post was the gold parrot that I saw.

Parrot at the IMA.JPG

According to the object cards describing the finial, the parrot was used by the royal Akan people of Ghana.

  • “Linguists, who serve as both translators and advisors to the king, are important officials in the Akan royal court.”

  • “Linguists carry staffs with gold-covered sculptural finials like this example.”

  • “The parrot signifies wisdom, benevolence, and language skills. Symbolism related to verbal prowess is particularly appropriate for objects belonging to these counselors, since they are expected to be masters of spoken arts.”

This parrot and many of the other art objects in the gallery were gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg in the 20th century.