The art of Ghana

From Kente cloth to the metallic textiles of El Anatsui.

17th century–present

videos + essays

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El Anatsui, <em>Lines That Link Humanity</em>
El Anatsui, Lines That Link Humanity

Bottle tops refer to the literal economic exchange of liquor for human beings in the past while also pointing to contemporary issues such as waste and sustainability

Paa Joe: Gates of No Return
Paa Joe: Gates of No Return

Paa Joe created large-scale, painted wood sculptures that represent architectural models of Gold Coast castles and forts, which served as way stations for more than six million Africans sold into slavery and sent to the Americas and the Caribbean between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Gus Casely-Hayford on Fante Asafo Flags | Artist & Empire
Gus Casely-Hayford on Fante Asafo Flags | Artist & Empire

Curator Gus Casely-Hayford looks at the origins and history of the Asafo flags, made by the Fante people of the Gold Coast of Africa, now known as Ghana.

Paa Joe, <em>Coffin the Shape of a Nike Sneaker</em>
Paa Joe, Coffin the Shape of a Nike Sneaker

Ghanaian coffins are famous for their creative shapes

Coffin in the shape of an eagle
Coffin in the shape of an eagle

This wooden coffin in the form of eagle with painted gold feather markings was made in the village of Teshie in Ghana.

Asafo Flags: Stitches Through Time
Asafo Flags: Stitches Through Time

These flags were made for military companies affiliated with the British along the coast of present-day Ghana.

Kente cloth
Kente cloth

This cloth—first woven by a wise spider—sends social messages through a system of specific patterns.

Akua’ba Female Figure (Akan peoples)
Akua’ba Female Figure (Akan peoples)

These figures were carved for Akan women unable to conceive—they’d ritually feed, carry, and care for them.

Linguist Staff (Okyeamepoma) (Asante peoples)
Linguist Staff (Okyeamepoma) (Asante peoples)

While its itsy bitsy American counterpart climbed up the waterspout, the spider shown here brought wisdom to Ghana.

Memorial Head (Akan peoples)
Memorial Head (Akan peoples)

Since the 16th century, Akan women potters have created ceramic heads to serve as the focus of funerary rituals.

El Anatsui, <em>Untitled</em>
El Anatsui, Untitled

The artist transforms metal from alcohol bottles into textiles that represent libations for ancestors.

Golden Stool (Sika dwa kofi), Asante peoples
Golden Stool (Sika dwa kofi), Asante peoples

It took a miracle to bring this golden stool to Earth—and another one to keep it out of British hands.

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