Pottery Traditional pottery in Ghana is simple and functional. Glaze is not common and the color of the pot depends largely on the type of clay used, although some pots are black from the smoke created during firing. Pots are still used to prepare, cook, and store food. Perhaps the most functional is the grinding bowl which is shallow with ridges on the inside. Food is ground with a small wooden pestle. Pots are low fired, therefore fragile, but inexpensive and for sale in every market and often on the roadside. Traditionally pottery is made by women, but many men are contemporary potters with many design departures from the women's pots. (for more on pottery, see an article Ellie wrote for Studio Potter).

Adinkra Adinkra is unique to Ghana. Designs are carved into a piece of gourd, dipped in a black tar like substance and stamped onto cotton cloth. The designs have meaning to those who can interpret them and traditionally Adinkra, made by men, was stamped on black cloth and worn to funerals by men. Now, Adinkra comes in many colors, although the designs are always black, and is worn on many occasions. It is sometimes worn instead of Kente because of its lower cost.

Stool Carving There are villages in Ghana devoted just to stool carving. It is the Ashanti belief that the stool is the receptacle of the soul. Chiefs are enstooled and when they die their stools are preserved with great ceremony in shrines. Stools are also everyday items, used instead of chairs. They range from simple and unadorned to beautiful sculptures representing animals.

Brass Castings Ghana was once known as the Gold Coast and brass weights cleverly embellished with designs were used to weigh the gold. These gold weights were made by men using the lost wax process of casting. Of all the crafts, this one has perhaps translated best into contemporary usage. Because they are attractive, inexpensive and easy to carry they are in great demand and have been interpreted into door pulls, boxes, small sculptures, napkin rings, etc.

Baskets Traditionally baskets were woven by men of the FraFra tribe on Northern Ghana in the city of Bolgatanga. Known as Bolga baskets they are quite beautiful and functional, as are most crafts in Africa. There are now modern versions of baskets that reflect the tastes of tourists and the creativity of the basket makers who are no longer bound by tradition. Some women have been organized into basket making cooperatives so that they can supplement their seasonal farming.

Kente Cloth In Ghana traditional weaving is done by men of the Ewe and Ashanti tribes. Who is more innovative depends on your source of information. The Ewe migrated from the north and their famous weaving villages are in the Volta Region along the path of migration. Ewe work is distinguished by animal, human and symbolic patterns woven into the cloth. The Ashanti are located in the Central Region and are known for their traditional crafts. Ashanti cloth is usually geometric in design. Both groups excel at weaving cloth fit for a king, and originally Kente was only worn by kings, chiefs or people in very prominent positions. Now, it is available to all, but because of its expense, it is still the cloth of prestige.

Coffins Something that was started as a special tribute to an uncle has turned into big business for some coffin makers in Teshie/Nungua, a suburb of Accra. These are coffins, although they can be considered sculptures, which are constructed in the shape of cars (usually Mercedes), planes, animals, etc. If you were a fisherman in life, you can be buried and transported to the next world in a fish. Because the cost starts around $1500 burial in one of these clever structures is limited to a small part of the population. Because of articles in the press, especially National Geographic, they have become collectors items in the western world.

Beads When you ask Ghanaians where beads come from they will tell you that they come from the ground, and indeed, many have been dug up, but the Krobo are the most famous beadmakers in Ghana and originally they bought their beads from traders who came from Nigeria. Now there are several Krobo workshops where glass beads are made in ceramic molds by firing in woodburning kilns. Made by men, it takes several years of apprenticeship to be able to form some of the intricate patterns associated with African beads. For a nice photo of Krobo beads, click here.

To purchase beautiful crafts like these, visit our online shop on the African Crafts Online website.