West Africa

The art of Ghana

From Kente cloth to the metallic textiles of El Anatsui.

17th century - present

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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.

El Anatsui,  <em>Old Man’s Cloth</em>
El Anatsui, Old Man’s Cloth

Textile or sculpture? El Anatsui purposely disregards the limiting categories imposed by Western art history.

Selected Contributors | The art of Ghana