Kumasi - Central Ghana's Cultural Center

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Wood Cravings, Adinkra Cloth, & Bead Making Villages

Wood statues developed simultaneously with terra cotta figures In the art history of Ghana. Akuaba wooden figures share characteristic features with a number of terra cotta figures. Typical of these are stylized eyes, nose and ears, ringed neck, crescent shaped eye brows, flat disc shaped head, and abstracted torso.

The wooden Akuaba statues were used as toys by young girls, were a companion for childless older women, and a therapeutic fertility figure for child-less married woman. It conceptualized the moon - Mother - Goddess. The oval shaped head, calves and eye brows reinforced this association. The statues were polished smooth black to signify ideal skin tone and texture.

Assortment of breast feeding and baby carrying statues of female fertility figures were produced including the Fante dolls that exhibited exaggerated breast, large feet. and occasional large navels and genitals. These features symbolize abundance, stability and regeneration. Other items like simple combs, whether for decoration or utilitarian purposes, had decorated handles.

Adinkra developed after the Asante defeat and the execution of the 19th Century Gyaman (Ivory Coast) King, Kofi Adinkra, who had tried to copy the sacred Asante Stool. The Adinkra Fabric is carefully printed in graphic symbols and geometric motifs on a background of white, rust brown or black vegetable dyed fabric. The symbols used determine the name of the cloth.

Originally, they were worn to funerals by the wealthy and royalty but beginning in this century it is worn on all occasions suitable with the background color.

More recently, the different symbols have been incorporated into contemporary fabric, architecture, painting, ceramic and sculpture design. An example is the ubiquitous 'gye nyame' symbol.


Beads were originally used as a currency and exchanged for gold, ivory, spices and slaves. Most of these trade beads were made in Venice(millietion) Bolemi, Holland and West Africa.
In West Africa beads were being made in cottage industries and because of the tedious processes were made only in small quantities. Like many traditional products, certain types of beads were only produced small quantities because they were reserved for chiefs, fetish priest, queen mothers, for treatment of certain ailments, or for other special purposes.
Many different materials have been used for the manufacture of beads including shells, coral rocks, clay and glass. In bead jewelry other raw materials like wood, ivory, brass, gold, silver, seeds, cane, amber and other precious stones can be added for specific effects.

'Aggrey' beads are very old and highly valued beads found in most of West African countries. The origin of these unique variegated glass beads is not know, although some of them were sold to Europeans in Nigeria who resold them in the Gold Coast. A typical example appears sky blue hut when looked through are sea green.

The Beauty of Music and Local Commerce


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