|EARTH METROPOLIS AFRICAN ART|
|ClaudeClark.com | Educ. | African | Search | African Studies | Art | Yahoo! 360 | Kemet | Akan Art. |Kente Cloth ||
|Badee Ink Bark Collected||Women Pounding|
|Boiling Ink Bark|
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|Ashanti Boy with|
a solid block of Ink
|Boiling Solid Blocks of Ink|
|Box with Adinkra|
|Adinkra Stamps Carved|
from Calabash Gourd
Adinkra Symbol Chart
Elder inguist and their staffs
Elder Wearing Adinkra
This page shows how ink used for printing adinkra cloth is made. The process shown here does not include calabash stamp carving. The pictures above the line are from two trips I made to Kumasi during the summers of 1976 and 2002. The first trip I saw bark stick bundles from which the ink was made and observed a very young boy attending the boiling of the bark process all by himself. Those are car cylinder blocks underneath the steel oil drums. The colonialist used the drums for transporting petrol fuel to and from their colonies during World War II. The same type steel drums were used to make musical instruments Africa and the Caribbean. In the Caribbean Islands they took drum making more seriously and developed the first pan instruments which are still being used today.
MALLENCE BART-WILLIAMS SAYS "SHARITY, NOT CHARITY"
Few historians have made note that the Ashanti have a character system that could one day become written text. Adinkra are being ”preserved”. My question is why? Why is adinkra being “preserved”? You preserve things that may get lost or are in danger of dying. If you are actively using it and developing your craft you have less concern of preserving the craft. Maintain a craft’s “true integrity” is one thing, but to “preserve” an art form because you plan putting it on the shelf to rest or die after 300 years of use is shameful. Continue to come up with new adinkra characters. The government has asked you to do that and they have agreed to pay money for the best results. I know because I saw it in writing. Are you doing that?
The first stage in the process of making adinkra involves peeling "badee" bark and tying it in bundles for transport to the water boiler. Next the bark is pounded with pestle and mortar to soften the bark fibers. The bark scraps from the mortar are placed in a barrel filled with water to soak over night. The barrel full of water and bark are boild and an iron-ore stone is added to the mixture in order to turn the ink black. After the bark boiling the ink from the bark dries into a hard clump. The clump is then placed in a small pot and melted for printing.
Iron-ore are not shown in these pictures. Those are hard clumps of dried ink the boy was holding. The calabash stamps were photographed in 1975. On my return trip to Kumasi in 2002 I had a chance witness more of the preparation of Ink used for printing cloth. The pounding of bark was being done by a college administrator from Diaspora in 2002. She was observed and supervised by a local.
The Akan speaking people migrated south to the "Gold Coast" (the modern Republic of Ghana 1957) region after the fall of ancient Ghana Civilization in 600 A.D. Their migration was a slow and steady one which took years to complete.
The Ashanti speak an Akan language. They speak the Twi dialect. Most of the cultural art forms they produce did not originate with them. Ashanti have been around for a little over 300 years and Akan culture has existed for much longer.
Ashanti Confederation was formed in 1698 by two cousins Osei Tutu and Kwame Frimpon Okomfo Anokye. It was a collection of numerous tribes, villages and towns grouped under one federation. Ashanti as a name or group of people did not exist before that time. They settled in central Ghana.
These pictures and essay are the results of Clark’s two trips to Ghana the summers of 1976 and 2002. There will be additional display of adinkra cloths from Clark’s personal collection later. Clark is a traditional woodcarver and retired school teacher who spend time traveling and writing essays about traditional African art. This website is earthmetropolis.com and you are in what is known as the African Studies Art section of this website at (notation made on October 11, 2012).