‘Batakarikesee’ simply means ‘paramount smock’. ‘Batakari’ (war tunic) is a type of traditional African tunic worn almost throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Africans use clothes to mark special roles and communicate the profession, class, and roles of a person in societies – clothes are not worn anyhow. Batakarikesee is very special and easily betrays the position of the individual in society due to its special features.
Denkryira King (Boa-Amponsem III ) in his war tunic
Batakarikesee is decorated with crystals, leather packets filled with special herbs, horns covered with leather, gold/silver (super conductor) packets, sacred geometric shapes and other protective inscriptions. Crytal such as obsidian has been scientifically proven to protect one from harmful electromagnetic radiations. Among such crystals are covered with leather and attached to ‘batakarikesee’.
Thomas Edward Bowdich, 17th century British traveller, without being initiated into the sciences of protective herbs and crystals described batakarikesee as, “The most surprising superstition of the Ashantees is their confidence in the fetishes or saphies they purchase so extravagantly from the Moors, believing firmly that they make them invulnerable and invincible in war, paralyse the hand of the enemy, shiver their weapons, divert the course of balls, render both sexes prolific, and avert all evils but sickness, (which they can only assuage) and natural death.”
Below are 3 things you need to know about batakaikesee:
1) Batakarikese is worn by kings only during their enstoolment, funerals of other chiefs and war.
2) Batakarikese was worn to distinguish kings during wars. In Akan or most African societies, kings were military commanders and were leaders in war. This gave the Akan military proverb, “s3 odehye3 anko a, akoa dwane,” translated, “if the royal doesn’t fight, the slave flees.” In most instances, the death of a king in war signifies victory for the opponent. So this made the survival of the military commander (king) a top military prioirty during wars.
3) Queens also wear batakarikese when it becomes extremely necessary for them to go to war. In Akan, women were regarded as builders of societies and wasn’t worth it loosing even a single woman. So women were not allowed to go to war. Queen Yaa Asantewaa was a special case where a woman was allowed to orchestrate a war in Akan. The ‘Ankobeahene’ with his military stay home and protect the women and children during war.
Queen Yaa Asantewaa in her war tunic