West Africa

Traditional Ashanti Buildings (World Heritage)

Little has remained of the former great empire of the Ashanti in the forest belt of West Africa since their conquest by the British at the end of the 19th century. Almost all traditional grass-covered and relief-decorated mud buildings and palaces were destroyed. Only ten religious shrines still remind of the culture of the former great empire. They are adorned with geometric patterns. Visit clothingexpress.org for safari trips to Africa.

Traditional Ashanti Structures: Facts

Official title: Traditional Ashanti buildings
Cultural monument: traditional clay buildings with wickerwork and palm leaf roofs such as the Asenemaso cult house, the Dakwe Jachie cult house and the Kentinkrono cult house in Kumasi, the Patakro cult house in Adansi, the Adwenease cult house and the Ejisu Besease cult house in Ejisu, all from the 18th century
Continent: Africa
Country: Ghana, Ashanti
Location: Kumasi and Ejisu
Appointment: 1980
Meaning: the last evidence of the Ashanti civilization

Traditional Ashanti Structures: History

1695 by Osei (King) Tutu founding of the Ashanti kingdom
1816 Kumasi seat of the Ashanti king
1817 the English crown sends an envoy to the court of the Ashanti king
1817/18 the first Christian missionary settles in the Ashanti kingdom
1838-43 first explorations by English explorers
1874 the Gold Coast becomes a British crown colony, destruction of the royal palace in Kumasi
1896 Establishment of the British protectorate of Ashanti, reconstruction of the royal palace in Kumasi
1902 the Ashanti Empire becomes a British crown colony
1957 the Ashanti Kingdom becomes part of the Republic of Ghana

River god Tano and his powerful family

Sweating and with a distant gaze, the priest slowly dances himself into a trance. His rock made of palm fronds rocks rhythmically to the faster beating whirl of the drums. Beads of sweat leave dark lines on his face, which is covered with white, earthy color, the eccentrically curved cow’s tails come closer and closer to the walls of the temple. The square courtyard on which the ceremony unfolds is surrounded by walls that are taller than a man, on which the traces of rain showers and ritual sacrifices of smoke from many decades can be found. In each of the four directions there is a building from the inner courtyard; but the established function is known only to the initiated. Next to the priest’s house is the one of the singers, who clap to a long refrain behind ornate plinths and in the shadow of the main roof. On the opposite side of the courtyard is the kitchen with painted stove supports on which the decorated pot simmering with the sacred herbal brew. With ecstatic leaps, the priest circles the three-armed fork of the Nyame altar, symbol of the supreme creature, which in its omnipotence does not make direct contact with higher cult masters. A massive bass drum roars from the open and almost empty drum house, the muffled sound of which is amplified many times over by the surrounding walls. The fourth structure of the complex, the altar, is characterized by particularly filigree round patterns and openwork walls.

The Ashanti tradition has numerous vortex and circular patterns, each with a complex meaning. The »dwarf chair«, a wooden ornament supported by exposed columns and made of oval arches, overlaid by stepped angular patterns, is presented above the entrance area of ​​the altar house. To reach the inside of the shrine, the priest has to climb three polished steps that lead to the threshold in the form of a symbolic dentition. On the right and left, the often varied curve decorations shine in ocher, known here as the mythical »Queen’s fan« and »The snake climbs the raffia palm«. An Ashanti master builder can only integrate such fragile ornaments into the still fresh clay of the wall ledges with many years of experience. A basic pattern is marked out with bamboo splinters,

Guided by his assistant, the master of ceremonies enters the interior of the “Holy of Holies”, into which only sparse rays of light penetrate. Leaning against the wall are wooden fertility dolls with oversized, flat heads, handed over to the temple generations ago with a request for children’s blessings. The elaborately carved chairs of the deceased heads cannot be overlooked. They have been carefully knocked down to prevent evil spirits from settling on them. On the right side is the covered altar, which, in addition to various ceremonial objects, holds the decisive brass vessel as the seat of the deity. Odomankoma, one of the favorite sons of the great river god Tano, is said to be in the bowl; the temple is dedicated to him. Food gifts and prayers should make the son of the guarantor of all fertility gracious and generous. Almost all of the Ashanti temples that have survived are dedicated to the children of Tano. In the absence of priests, however, only a few perform their religious duties today. However, according to the same age-old construction principle, four buildings around a square inner courtyard, religious sites, private houses and buildings of secular rulers are still built today. Thanks to clear basic lines and naturally air-conditioned thanks to the clay used as a building material, this traditional architecture has been able to hold its own against modern reinforced concrete construction to this day. However, according to the same age-old construction principle, four buildings around a square inner courtyard, religious sites, private houses and buildings of secular rulers are still built today. Thanks to clear basic lines and naturally air-conditioned thanks to the clay used as a building material, this traditional architecture has been able to hold its own against modern reinforced concrete construction to this day. However, according to the same age-old construction principle, four buildings around a square inner courtyard, religious sites, private houses and buildings of secular rulers are still built today. Thanks to clear basic lines and naturally air-conditioned thanks to the clay used as a building material, this traditional architecture has been able to hold its own against modern reinforced concrete construction to this day.

Traditional Ashanti Buildings (World Heritage)