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ASANTEMAN ASSOCIATION

The Ashanti constitute a political confederacy or state which developed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the central part of southern Ghana, West Africa. It is believed that the Ashanti state was created and maintained by war, and a military ideology remained a central feature of its cultural orientation to the end. Before its annexation by the British in 1901, this state was a confederation of nine originally autonomous founding chiefdoms and a number of subsequently incorporated communities.

At the center of the state was the wealthy and powerful chiefdom of Kumasi, whose hereditary  ruler was acknowledged as the Asantehene, that is, the head of the nation, or king.

The Golden Stool (sika 'gua) was created as the politico-ritual symbol of unity, and was believed to embody the spirit or soul of the Ashanti nation. In fact, it was an attempt by British officials to confiscate the Golden Stool (based on ignorance of its true significance) that precipitated the so-called War of the Golden Stool in 1900-1901, resulting in the defeat of the Ashanti and their final incorporation into the British colonial system.

The AshantiS are noted for their expertise in a variety of specialized crafts. These include weaving, wood carving, ceramics, and metallurgy. Of these crafts, only pottery-making is primarily a female activity; the others are restricted to male specialists. Even in the case of pottery-making, only men are allowed to fashion pots or pipes representing anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures.

Weaving is a highly developed craft, with dozens of standardized and named textile designs. Stamped cloth is also made. Traditionally, pottery was hand-molded since the use of the wheel was unknown. Wood carving is divided into many branches, each with its own specialists. Among the major products are wooden sculptures of outstanding artistic quality and the talking-drums (ntumpane). The famous wooden "stools" are symbolic and ritual objects rather than items of furniture. Please visit the Asanteman Association's parent organization at www.acona-usacanada.org