The Craft Industry
The Ghanaian heartland is artistically rich. Earlier traditional rulers gathered together the most skilled craftspeople from the regions and relocated them to craft villages. Villages specialized in the production of particular crafts to provide royal regalia and paraphernalia, as well as to supply the everyday needs of the traditional rulers and their courts. Goldsmiths, woodcarvers, brasscasters, ironsmiths, beadmakers, potters, basket and mat makers, and weavers of silk and cotton textiles were concentrated in villages with a high degree of specialization. In the 21st century these villages continue production of crafts for local and export markets and for the tourism industry centered mainly in Accra, Kumasi, and Cape Coast.
Indigenous crafts figure prominently in contemporary Ghanaian life. At an abstract level, a series of visual-verbal connections link a pool of common design motifs with well-known Ghanaian proverbs. As a result, Ghanaian consumers, by using and wearing Ghanaian handcrafts can make pointed statements concerning their beliefs about life, political leanings, and family responsibilities. At the concrete level, handwoven narrow-strip kente and handprinted adinkra cloth are worn at almost every event of importance. Annual festivals, held in home villages and prodigiously attended by both rural and urban Ghanaians, are lavish, dramatic, visual displays that bring static handcrafted objects into motion. In the cities, urban elite incorporate hand-carved wooden and wrought iron furniture in their homes.