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A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden

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Ashanti Ghana PEOPLE

Ashanti  
Ghanians come from six main ethnic groups: the Akan (Ashanti and Fanti), the Ewe, the Ga-Adangbe, the Mole-Dagbani, the Guan, and the Gurma.

Ashanti Tribe

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The Ashanti tribe of the Akan are the largest tribe in Ghana and one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa. Once renown for the splendour and wealth of their rulers, they are most famous today for their craft work, particularly their hand-carved stools and fertility dolls and their colourful kente cloth. Kente cloth is woven in bright, narrow strips with complex patterns; it's usually made from cotton and is always woven outdoors, exclusively by men.

The village 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.

The Ashanti are noted for their expertise in a variety of specialized crafts. These include weaving, wood carving, ceramics, 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 representing anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures.

Ewé
The Ewé have over 600 deities to turn to in times of need. Many village celebrations and ceremonies take place in honour of one or more deities. Tehy also weave kente cloth, and their more geometrical patterns contain symbolic designs handed down through the ages.

The Ewe occupy southeastern Ghana and the southern parts of neighboring Togo and Benin. Most Ewe were farmers who kept some livestock, and there was some craft specialization. On the coast and immediately inland, fishing was important, and local variations in economic activities permitted a great deal of trade between one community and another, carried out chiefly by women


Fanti Tribe

The Fanti tribe are mainly located in the coastal areas of Ghana



Ga-Adangbe Tribe

The Ga-Adangbe people inhabit the Accra Plains. The Adangbe are found to the east, the Ga groups, to the west of the Accra coastlands. Although both languages are derived from a common proto-Ga-Adangbe ancestral language, modern Ga and Adangbe are mutually unintelligible. The modern Adangbe include the people of Shai, La, Ningo, Kpone, Osudoku, Krobo, Gbugble, and Ada, who speak different dialects. The Ga also include the Ga-Mashie groups occupying neighborhoods in the central part of Accra, and other Gaspeakers who migrated from Akwamu, Anecho in Togo, Akwapim, and surrounding areas.


Gaun Tribe
The Guan are believed to have begun to migrate from the Mossi region of modern Burkina around A.D. 1000. Moving gradually through the Volta valley in a southerly direction, they created settlements along the Black Volta, throughout the Afram Plains, in the Volta Gorge, and in the Akwapim Hills before moving farther south onto the coastal plains. Some scholars postulate that the wide distribution of the Guan suggests that they were the Neolithic population of the region. Later migrations by other groups such as the Akan, Ewe, and Ga-Adangbe into Guan-settled areas would then have led to the development of Guan-speaking enclaves along the Volta and within the coastal plains.

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The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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