www.africancraftsmarket.com - (Producers and suppliers of fine African handcrafted
Arts and crafts shipped to the international market)
& PEOPLE - ASHANTI
The Ashanti live in central Ghana in the Rainforests of West Africa
approximately 150 miles away from the coast. The
Ashanti are a major ethnic group of the Akans (Ashanti and Fanti) in Ghana, Ghana
is a fairly new nation, barely more than 50 years old, and Ghana was previously
called the Gold Coast. Much of the modern nation
of Ghana was dominated from the late 17th through the late 19th century by a state
known as Asante. Asante was the largest and most powerful of a series of states
formed in the forest region of southern Ghana by people known as the Akan. Among
the factors leading the Akan to form states, perhaps the most important was that
they were rich in gold. It is now politically separated into four main parts.
Ashanti is in the center and Kumasi is the capital. The Ashanti are the largest
tribe in Ghana and one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa. The area
of Ashanti is 9400 square miles with a population of about one million.
Ashanti people have always been known as fierce fighters. The people of this tribe
have a slogan: "If I go forward I die, If I go backward I die, Better go forward
and die." When the Ashanti tribe was faced with war, they used drums to signal
the upcoming battle. The beat of these drums could be heard through the dense
forest. The Ashanti have a special handshake, in which you hold your left hand
out to shake hands. This comes from the Ashanti's explanation that the left hand
holds the shield, and the right hand holds the spears. So, in order to show your
trust in someone, you put down your shield and therefore have your left handfree.
the Ashanti, the family and the mother's clan are most important. A child is said
to inherit the father's soul or spirit and from the mother a child receives flesh
and blood This relates them more closely to the mother's clan. The
Ashanti live in an extended family. The family lives in various homes or huts
that are set up around a courtyard. The head of the household is usually the oldest brother that lives there. The
elders choose him. He is called either Father or House father and is obeyed by
Ashanti religion is a mixture of spiritual and supernatural powers. They believe
that plants, animals, and trees have souls. They also believe in fairies, witches,
and forest monsters. There are a variety of religious beliefs involving ancestors,
higher gods, or abosom, and 'Nyame', the Supreme Being of Ashanti. The Ashanti
also practice many ceremonies for marriage, death, puberty, and birth.
golden stool is sacred to the Ashanti; today great pride in the Ashanti King lives
on in the tradition of the Golden Stool. There is an elaborate legend surrounding
it that is told by the old men of Ashanti. The golden stool is very carefully
protected. No one has ever sat on it and since its arrival; it has not touched
the ground. As an Ashanti symbol, the golden stool represents the worship of ancestors,
well-being, and the nation of Ashanti. As a symbol of nationhood, and because
if contains the sumsum or Soul of Ashanti, the Golden Stool is considered to be
so sacred that no person whatsoever is allowed to sit upon it. It is kept with
the strictest security and precaution; and is taken outside only on exceptionally
grand occasions. Never must it come in contact with the earth or the ground. It
is always lying on its own stool or on the skin of an animal such as the leopard.
Ashanti's have on many occasions made great sacrifices to defend it when its safety
had been threatened. In 1896 they submitted to the deportation of their King,
Prempeh I, rather than resort to a war in which they feared they might suffer
defeat and risk the loss of the Golden stool. They deemed the loss of their King
a small thing compared with the loss of their Golden Stool.
is a social as well as an economic unit. Everyone participates in the major ceremonies,
the most frequent of which are funeral celebrations, which typically last several
days. Attendance at funerals is normally expected from everyone in the village
and expenditure on funerals is a substantial part of the household budget
Ashanti are noted for their expertise in a variety of specialized crafts.These
include weaving, wood carving, ceramics, the reknown kente cloth and metallurgy.
Of these crafts, only pottery making is primarily a female activity; the others
are restricted to male specialists. Even in the case of pottery making, only men
are allowed to fashion pots or pipes.
cloth was used for clothing before weaving was introduced. With weaving, there
is cotton and silk. Women may pick cotton or spin materials into thread, but only
men are allowed to weave. There are different patterns in weaving, each with its
own name. Sometimes the pattern represents social status, a clan, a saying, or
the sex of the one wearing it. Patterns are not always woven in the cloth. It
can also be stamped on in many designs.
Kente cloth is only worn in the
southern half of the country and - as distinct from other forms of traditional
weaving - is reserved mainly for joyous occasions. Traditionally the Kente cloth
is a festival cloth worn mainly during the annual and seasonal festivals, which
are happy occasions. Today they are not only used for festive occasions but also
during the rituals associated with the important events of life; for example,
marriage, death, and religious worship. Therefore, it is quite appropriate for
outsiders to wear it for religious and festive occasions.
carving is divided into many branches, each with its own specialists. Among the
major products are wooden sculptures of outstanding artistic quality and the talking-drums.
The Ashanti fertility doll or "Akua ba" doll is commonly found in the homes of
the Ashanti and given to the females in the village to bring them closer to the
spirit of Fertility Gods.
The Ashanti play an African game called "Kikogo"
which means transferring and refers to players moving markers that are usually
beads or stones around a wooden board that has cups or depressions similar to
that of an egg carton. The game is as popular as draughts (checkers) are in the
A selection of a few Ashanti choices available from African Crafts Market.
Click here Learn about more African
tribes and traditions
CRAFTS MARKET is a company situated in South Africa that has many
African pieces of art available for sale, from the lovely Ashanti Fertility
dolls and Talking drums through the traditional Masks and cloth. To view the items that may be of interests to you go to our gallery
pages on our website at www.africancraftsmarket.com
Abstract art~ African
figures ~ African busts ~ animal
skins ~ Tribal Zulu / Ndebele bead work ~ candles ~ candle holders ~ African canes ~ chessboards ~ clay art ~ cooking
utensil ~ cushions ~ Tribal
drums ~ footwear ~ furniture ~ gemstones ~ hats ~ animal
horns ~ handmade jewelry ~ lights
& lamp shades ~leather ~ African
tribal masks ~ decoupage ostrich eggs ~ paintings ~ postcards ~ Zulu shields ~ stone
animals ~ stone eggs ~ tablecloths ~ tableware ~
~ wire art ~ wood animals ~ wood tableware ~ Zulu