Akan Art OF Ghana


Set I: Akan Arts, Ghana, Coronel 1972-74 Slides 1-40

These are historic, ethnographic images taken in the 1970s by the art historian Dr. Patricia Crane Coronel, whose work is included in the Smithsonian. The set of 40 slides costs $140.00.

1-5: Kente weaving

Kente is the most prestigious Ghanaian cloth. Woven by men on double-heddle looms, individual strips are about 21/2" wide and then sewn together to make a large rectangular cloth approximately 72"-100."

1. Queenmother of Akropong draped in kente with her entourage at Odwira festival

2. "Master of Music" kente weaver, Bonwire

3. Kente threads rolled in preparation for weaving, Bonwire

4-5. Kente weaver on a double-headed loom, Bonwire

6-10: Stools (dwa)

The stool is the most personal, ubiquitous and symbolic art form of the Akan peoples. Their functions range from utilitarian, ceremonial, symbols of state and ancestral shrines. Carved out of one piece of wood by male sculptors, each stool is composed of three parts -- the rectangular base, the vertical middle support and the elliptical top. The support design corresponds to the status and position of its owner.

6-7. Stool carving with an adze from single block of wood

8-9. Washing of court stools during the Odwira festival, Akropong

10. Golden stool of the state of Akropong, Odwira festival

11-16: State Arts

The Akan are hierarchical, matrilineal peoples who distinguish status through art. Court regalia are publicly displayed during ceremonies when the Queenmother, paramount chief and sub-chiefs gather.

11-12. Gathering of chiefs at Odwira durbar, Akropong

13. "Soul wearers" of the paramount chief, Akropong

14. Ivory horn blowers of the Akropong court

15. Main parade for the Oquaa Fetu Aabye festival, Cape Coast

16. Linguist (okyeame) with staff of office topped with a seated mother

and child motif in gold leaf, Abadom

17-20: General geography

17. Fort Jago, originally a 15th century Portuguese fort at Elmina

18. "Mammy" wagon named "God is King," Enchi

19. Merchants at the Accra lorry park

20. Fante fishing canoes beached at Moree

21-31: Fante asafo arts

Historically, asafo companies were military units. Under colonial rule, they evolved into paramilitary organizations that became essential to all Fante communities. To this day individuals' community identities are determined by their asafo affiliation. They still maintain fierce rivalries, not through the armed confrontation of the past, but through a rich tradition of competitive arts as seen in sculpture, decorated canoes and applique banners.

21-23. Asafo banner carrier with cotton applique flag "What do you say?" Mankasim

24. Fante artist sculpting a concrete figure for the local asafo posuban, Mankasim

25-28. Fante fishing canoes with carved and painted gunwales referring

to specific asafo company affiliations, Cape Coast

29. Aggressive gunwale image of asafo company #1 represented with the red head, Cape Coast

30. Fishermen's sons with their own carved model canoe, Moree

31. Fante net mender on beach at Cape Coast

32-40: Adinkra cloth

This Asante fiber art of painted or stamped cloth may have originated as a funerary rust or red cloth, but today bright colored adinkra are worn for special occasions. Women prepare the black dye of tree bark and iron slag while preteen boys sew embroidery bands on cotton widths of cloth. The carving of gourd stamps, combs and the painting process is completed by men.

32. Gathering at Odwira festival with center male in yellow adinkra, Akropong

33. Adinkra cloth

34-35. Sewing of embroidery threads on widths of cotton cloth, Ntonso

36. Preparation of dye from the bark of a badie tree with iron slag, Ntonso

37. Stamping implements carved out of gourd

38-39. Stamping of black cotton adinkra, Ntonso

40. Adinkra dried by leaving the cloth in the open air on the road


Copyright © 2005 Susan S Peirce. All rights reserved.