History of Ashanti Tribe of Ghana
The Ashanti’s migrated from the Niger river to modern-day Kumasi, and gained much of their wealth from trading the region’s gold with other empires and people. Of the items crafted from gold, one Ashanti legend is the arrival of The Golden Stool, an object rarely seen by anyone outside of the tribe’s royalty.
One of the Ashanti tribe’s most notable aspects is the matrilineal structure of its society that has lasted throughout history to present-day. While children receive their father’s spirit, it is believed that a mother gives each child his physical body, therefore relating a child more closely to his mother and mother’s family.
Generally, Ashanti hold very strong family bonds. Since some Ashanti men practice polygamy, and divorce is rare, families live in extremely communal settings. Extended families live in compound/courtyard style yards with multiple homes to accommodate large numbers of relatives. The main father (also called Housefather) is often one of many brothers–often a child’s uncle will be called father.
Male children take apprenticeships from their fathers, and many fathers also enroll their boys in school. Other skills, such as drumming, are taught to boys by their mother. Traditionally, girls are responsible for fetching water, cooking, and helping in the fields.
Traditional Ashanti religion is a combination of animist and supernatural powers. In addition to believing that things like trees and animals have souls, many Ashantis also believe in fairytale creatures such as witches and monsters. There are a variety of religious beliefs involving ancestors and ‘Nyame’, the supreme god or ruler. Still today, some Ashanti practice many cultural rituals for birth, marriage, coming of age, and death.
The Ashanti tribe of West Africa is known for a wide variety of arts, including the bright kente cloth strips now a famous symbol throughout Africa. Weaving is still traditionally an art entirely performed by men, though women are allowed to pick cotton or spin silk thread. In addition to weaving, pottery is an Ashanti skill that many women perform. Metal sculpture and casting is also a widespread art among Ashantis.
Ashantis are also known for their woodcarvings. Kings masks, fertility dolls, stools, chairs, and busts are only a few of the many functional and decorative African crafts commonly made by Ashanti woodcarvers in Ghana today.