One of the beauties of Africa is its artisanal work. Ghana specifically, holds a lot of cultural richness, a big part of it reflected in handmade creations that use traditional and ancestral techniques. Luckily, all the artisanal work we will mention in this article are still alive which means you can witness it and even give a go at this handwork yourself. Let’s take a look at the top examples of artisanal work in Ghana.
Best artisanal work in Ghana nowadays
Ghana still produces an abundance of pottery. It is still a source of income for many locals, especially in the Volta Region. In fact, there’s even a town in Ghana that has become famous for its pottery making: Vume, the pottery village.
Let’s have a look at some of the beautiful pottery pieces you can buy in Ghana:
If you like pottery or want to learn how to do it there are of course many workshops/tours available that will have everything organised for you but we would recommend going directly to the source. Ghana is home to many villages where local activities center around pottery-making as a living and continuing cultural tradition. Why not go directly to the source and get the real deal?
Just as gold is associated with the Ashantis, bead making in Ghana is associated with the Krobo people. This large ethnic group comes from the mountains inland coast of south eastern Ghana, and are the originators of glass beads made out of recycled glass. Waist beads in Ghana also have a very particular simbolism. Glass that has been thrown away into the garbage, is turned into something beautiful, such as the examples below:
There are many bead making workshops available across Ghana. You can try by contacting Global Mamas who work with the village of Krobo and have some workshops available. You can also reach out to Enyo Bruku (@enyobrukutravels) who has a number of different workshop tours available, bead making amongst them.
Kente is a colourfully patterned cloth traditionally woven by hand in Ghana. However, it is more than just a cloth or a traditional ghanaian gift. It is an iconic representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious belief and more. This is because before it was reserved only for Asante royalty and limited to social and sacred functions.
Nowadays, kente has become very popular. A lot of kente outfits are worn by locals to traditional weddings and special occasions. Manufacturers in Ghana and China have started replicating kente designs and young, aspiring fashion designers have started experimenting with it and showing it at fashion events by making modern African print clothing.
For you to learn more about this technique, see how it is done and try it yourself, you can visit the Adanwomase Kente Village. They welcome tourists, provide guided tours and offer kente for sale.
Batik making is an ancient art form and craft of making fabric by hand. The technique involves using a stamp which is dipped in melted wax and then printed on the fabric. The fabric is then dyed, and the areas that have been waxed will not be penetrable by the dye.
Here are some of the amazing batik prints you can create:
Best batik making workshops can be found in Cape Coast organised by Global Mammas. A few therapeutic hours learning the technique and leaving with your own personalised fabric.
African black soap is an artisanal product that has been used for centuries in West African countries. It originates with the Yoruba people in Nigeria and Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. In Yoruba language black soap is ose (soap) and dudu (black).
With time, its use spread throughout many other West African countries and nowadays is sold worldwide because of its amazing benefits. Many locals are also starting their own skincare companies and taking advantage of the richness of natural ingredients that Ghanaian nature provides.
Check out the Ghana Soap School and learn soap making in Ghana.
Making musical instruments out of calabash
A calabash (also called bottle gourd and formally as Lagenaria siceraria) is a fairly large fruit grown on trees found in parts of Africa, Central and South America, the West Indies and extreme southern Florida. When it is dried out and hollowed out, it can be used for many things.
In Africa, people use them to create different musical instruments such as maracas or drums, as food and liquid containers (some eating places use it as a tool to attract tourists by serving them native recipes in calabashes) or simply as a decorative piece. The plain look of the calabash, can be changed into any sophisticated piece of art.
If you take a visit to Accra Arts Center, you will find numerous locals working on different handmade pieces made out of calabash, different musical instruments specially. If you mingle with them, we can assure you that you will manage to have your own one-to-one workshop!
Last but not least, weaving! Bolgatanga is a region in Ghana that is very big on weaving, which in turn has helped generate a source of income to its locals. This is one of the reasons the baskets are called Bolga baskets, because of their origin.
Nowadays, these baskets have become very popular. Many companies from abroad are exporting them and selling them abroad as unique, luxurious, handmade pieces. On the positive side, it’s good because it gives visibility to African culture and its ancestral technique right?
The amount of different objects you can create with the weaving technique is amazing. Here are some of them:
Pay a visit to the Accra Arts Center where you will find numerous weavers. Mingle, sit down with them and you will end up learning this amazing ancestral technique. If you have more time on your hands and want more of an adventure, then of course we suggest you travel to the North and visit Bolgatanga.