Monday, 13 February 2012

History: The Ashanti Empire (courtesy of Wikinfo)…….

Asante Map -Asante Empire during the 19th century

The Ashanti Empire or Asante Empire, also known as the Ashanti Confederacy or Asanteman (independent from 1701–1896), was a pre-colonial West African state created by the Akan people of what is now the Ashanti Region in Ghana. Their empire stretched from central Ghana to present day Togo and Côte d'Ivoire, bordered by the Dagomba kingdom to the north and Dahomey to the east. Today, the Ashanti monarchy continues as one of the constitutionally protected, sub-national traditional states within the Republic of Ghana.

The Ashanti or Asante are a major ethnic group in Ghana. They were a powerful, militaristic, and highly disciplined people of West Africa. The ancient Ashanti migrated from the vicinity of the northwestern Niger River after the fall of the Ghana Empire in the 13th century. Evidence of this lies in the royal courts of the Akan kings reflected by that of the Ashanti kings whose processions and ceremonies show remnants of ancient Ghana ceremonies. Ethno linguists have substantiated the migration by tracing word usage and speech patterns along West Africa.

Around the 13th century AD, the Ashanti and various other Akan peoples migrated into the forest belt of present-day Ghana and established small states in the hilly country around present-day Kumasi. During the height of the Mali Empire the Ashanti, and Akan people in general, became wealthy through the trading of gold mined from their territory. Early in Ashanti history, this gold was traded with the greater Ghana and Mali Empires. Dubious; cite [Academic citations on the Talk page directly contradict this uncited account]

An Ashanti Street
Ashanti Street drawn by Thomas Edward Bowdich in Ghana in 1817. Author: TE Bowdich Source: Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, &c. )

Ashanti Architecture

Architecture of Ashantis drawn by Thomas Edward Bowdich in 1817
Date-1817 Author -Thomas Edward Bowdich Rationale: Artist died 185 years ago

A House in Kumasi
Image of a British officer pictured with traditional Ashanti family dwelling. Architecture was typical of the Ashanti during the 18 to early 19th centuries.) Image of an Ashanti home before British colonization

***Paulina Opoku-Gyimah says: I love the majestic, Adinkra symbols clad architecture of the above house. I’m truly inspired!!!! Wow….. we had our own way of building and decorating our homes…. -what happened???

Ashantee War Captain
"Ashantee captain in his War Drefs [Dress]" by Bowdich, T. Edward, "In: Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee, with a statistical account of that kingdom, and geographical notices of other parts of the interior of Africa."

Tolerant parents are typical among the Ashanti. Childhood is considered a happy time and children cannot be responsible for their actions. The child is not responsible for their actions until after puberty. A child is harmless and there is no worry for the control of its soul, the original purpose of all funeral rites, so the ritual funerals typically given to the deceased Ashanti are not as lavish for the children.

The Ashanti adored twins when they were born within the royal family because they were seen as a sign of impending fortune. Ordinarily, boy twins from outside of it became fly switchers at court and twin girl’s potential wives of the King. If the twins are a boy and girl, no particular career awaits them. Women who bear triplets are greatly honored because three is regarded as a lucky number. Special rituals ensue for the third, sixth, and ninth child. The fifth child (unlucky five) can expect misfortune. Families with many children are well respected and barren women scoffed.

Menstruation and impurity
The Ashanti held puberty rites only for females. Fathers instruct their sons without public observance. The privacy of boys was respected in the Ashanti kingdom. As menstruation approaches, a girl goes to her mother's house. When the girl's menstruation is disclosed, the mother announces the good news in the village beating an iron hoe with a stone. Old women come out and sing Bara (menstrual) songs. The mother spills a libation of palm wine on the earth and recites the following prayer:
Supreme Sky God, who alone is great, Upon whom men lean and do not fall, Receive this wine and drink."

"Earth Goddess, whose day Of worship is Thursday, Receive this wine and drink, Spirit of our ancestors, Receive this wine and drink"

"O Spirit Mother do not come, And take her away, And do not permit her, To menstruate only to die.

Menstruating women suffered numerous restrictions. The Ashanti viewed them as ritually unclean. They did not cook for men, nor did they eat any food cooked for a man. If a menstruating woman entered the ancestral stool house, she was arrested, and the punishment was typically death. If this punishment is not exacted, the Ashanti believe, the ghost of the ancestors would strangle the chief. Menstruating women lived in special houses during their periods as they were forbidden to cross the threshold men's houses. They swore no oaths and no oaths were sworn for or against them. They did not participate in any of the ceremonial observances and did not visit any sacred places.


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