Asante Architecture

Asante Architecture is the architecture of Asante People. Asante Architecture included Asantehene palace, shrines, common homes, decorative art and symbols, and organizational features.








Kumasi, Asante Capital


Kumasi had no need for fortication. It was situated on a hill and blessed with almost impenetrable land. For this reason walls were never built by the Asante for defense unlike other forest west African nations. All avenue and streets had names. Four of its roads had width of 50 to 100 yards. Long avenues and with adjoining streets were a feature of all Akan people. Kumasi avenues and streets took a north/south direction.

Palace


The palace of the Asantehene was a huge structure containing 12 oblong courts, with arcades on one side and squares. Its walls were decorated.  



Asante Common Home


The most common house was four room square or rectangular structure with a central courtyard or open square. Houses contained verandahs facing large avenues. Verandahs were a common feature of African Architecture. These verandahs could serve as storefronts or trade shops.  Some compounds were two to three floors. Some homes could hold up to 80 people. Homes had latrines, which were on the exterior and in a much hidden section, covered by a cabinetlike structure. Hot water would be poured in the holes everyday to prevent foul odor. Daily garbage was usually burnt at the back of homes. Europeans noted the high standard of hygene founded in Kumasi homes. 

Asante homes typically was built by constructing  a wood pole frame or trellis. Then laterite clay was pressed into the wood pole clay frame or trellis. Roofs were made of thatched Palm leaf, applied in layered after layered sections. Interconnecting symbols were drawn on upper-walls, but base relief were carved out of red clay on the lower levels. Symbols of Sankofa bird, fish, and reptiles like crocodiles can be found. The symbols also represent Asante proverbs and sayings.

Shrines


Asante Shrines were structured the same as Asante homes, square-like with four sections.They were the only surviving structures from pre-colonial times. By the 20th century many Asante buildings were loss, due to the bombing of the city by the British. In 1960, only sixteen shrines were left. By 1980, only ten remains still standing. The following is a list of surviving Asante shrines:
  1. Yaw Tano Shrine at Ejisu-Besease
  2. Akwasi Sima Shrine at Adarkwa Jachie
  3. Tano Abenamu Subunu Shrine at Abirem
  4. Tano Kwadwo Shrine at Saaman
  5. Atuo Kosua Shrine at Adwinase.
  6. Kentinkrono Shrine at Kentinkrono
  7. Tano Odomankoma Shrine at Bogwiase.
  8. Asawase Shrine at Asawase near Ejisu
  9. Asenemaso Shrine at Asenemaso
  10. Patakro near Obuasi.





Work Cited 

Ghana Museum. Asante Traditional Building.<http://www.ghanamuseums.org/asante-tradional-buildings.php>

External Links:

University of Pittsburgy, African Heritage Classroom. Room Concept: A Courtyard.