March 13, 2018
Growing up whenever I told my parents I was going to certain things on my own freewill, I’d tend to get the response “I won’t hold my breath on it”. Who am I kidding, that still happens. So when I said I was going to post three times a week, I hope you didn’t hold your breath. If you did, I am really sorry if you passed out!
Two weeks ago we headed North for a 4 day excursion through Kumasi, Ghanaian Premaculture Institute, and Mole National Forest – this is all about Kumasi but the others are to come!
Kumasi is home to the Ashanti people which is an area filled with so much culture, so many bright colors and so much symbolism. It’s a really cool culture to learn about so I would highly recommend looking into the Ashanti Region and culture.
First we went to the old palace where the Ashanti royals used to life. It is now turned into a museum but pictures were not allowed so that means if you ever find yourself in the area, you definitely need to go! The museum was filled with wax figures, valued objects and a whole lot of chairs. Every time an Ashanti prince or queen would go somewhere, he/she would be presented with a chair to sit in. Once he/she sat in that chair, no one was to ever sit in that chair again so they would be brought back to the palace and now they are still on display. Also the line of inheritance for the dynasty is matrilineal rather than the patrilineal system most countries with a monarchy do today. The Ashanti prince leads the Ashanti region but still must answer to the President of Ghana.
So enough with the fun mini history lesson and on to the fun stuff!
Our next stop was the stamping village where they make dye for stamping Ashanti symbols on to Kente and other cloths.
Here are some of the many different symbols used. Each represents a different word, phrase or idea.
And here are the pots that they make the dye in! The dye is made from the tree in the picture below and it takes over a week of constantly being over fire to finally be ready for use
Before they put it over fire, they soak the pieces of the tree in water so that it can be easily broken down.
After the tree soaks, they place it in this big pot where they mash it. We were terrible and it would have probably taken a week alone for us to get ready to for the next step but it was fun to try!
While we were mashing up the tree, this lady was filling containers up with the black dye. The tree starts as a red/brown color but through the soaking, mashing and week over the fire, it slowly becomes darker and blacker.
Here is the dye cooking over the fire!
After a week of cooking, this is how dark the dye becomes
After we learned to make the dye, we got to pick two stamps and stamp our own fabric!
The stamps I originally wanted, they didn’t have because someone had bought them but I am glad because I absolutely love the meaning of the stamps I decided on. The stamp that looks like a star means “child of God/ child of Heaven” while the other one means “I will not fear/dignity”. One of my favorite songs is a rendition of No Longer Slaves by Voice of Lee (GO CHECK IT OUT). I love the whole song but I love the part that says “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God” and thats where I was going with this Kente cloth.
I didn’t mean to stamp them this close together but I really like it! I can’t wait to frame this and hang it up on my wall for a daily reminder.
Here are all of the stampings done by my group!
After the stamping village, we headed to a Kente weaving village! Kente cloth is known world-wide but actually originated here with the Ashanti people in the Ashanti region.
These are the looms that the workers weave on
The placement of the black string dictates the pattern of the Kente – I don’t know how but it just does
They asked if any of us wanted to try so you know I was up for that. Of course I hit my head getting into the loom but that should. not be a surprise to any of you.
It is a blessing and a curse the Ghanaians will only tell you what you want to hear. Many times its not true… I could ask them if I am close to home and they would probably tell me yes. I kept telling these guys that I was terrible and they insured me I was not (and boy was I). It was really cool to get to see this done in person. I even bought 4 yards of fabric to have turned into a blanket when I get back so that’s exciting!
After we left Kumasi, we headed North. First we stopped at the Premaculture Institute, then to Mole National Park. Those posts will be up later this week so keep an eye out!
Again, sorry I suck at commitment but I’m working on it!
Thanks for reading!