Ashanti traditional constructions (Ghana)

Traditional Asante Buildings are located to the northeast of Kumasi . They are the last material vestiges of the great Asante civilization, which reached its climax in the 18th century . Since the houses are made of earth , wood and straw , they are vulnerable to the onslaught of time and climate . This site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1980 .



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  • 1 Description
  • 2 Classification criteria
  • 3 Integridad
  • 4 Authenticity
  • 5 Protection and management requirements
  • 6 Fountains


Near Kumasi, a group of traditional buildings are the last remaining testimony to the great Asante civilization , which reached its apogee in the 18th century. The buildings include ten shrines or fetish houses : Abirim, Asawase, Asenemaso, Bodwease, Ejisu Besease, Adarko Jachie, Edwenase, Kentinkrono, Patakro, and Saaman. Most are situated towards the northeast of Kumasi, and south of Patakro . Organized around courtyards, the buildings are constructed of wood, bamboo and mud plaster ., and originally had thatched roofs. The unique decorative bas-reliefs that adorn the walls are bold and depict a wide variety of motifs. Common shapes include spirals and arabesque details with representations of animals, birds and plants, linked to traditional “Adinkra” symbols. As with other traditional Asante art forms, these designs are not merely ornamental, they also have symbolic meanings, associated with the ideas and beliefs of the Asante people, and have been passed down from generation to generation. The buildings, the richness of their color, and the skill and diversity of their decorations, are the last surviving examples of a traditional style of architecture .significant showing how influential, powerful, and wealthy the late 18th to late 19th century Asante kingdom was . Traditional Asante buildings reflect and reinforce a complex and intricate technical, religious, and spiritual heritage. Traditional religion, still practiced at Asante shrines, takes the form of consulting deities for advice on specific situations, or before implementing an important initiative. That is why the shrines have been kept with all their symbolic features.

Classification criteria

  • Criterion (v): Traditional Asante buildings are the last remaining testimony to the unique architecture of the great Asante Kingdom. The traditional motifs of its rich bas-relief decoration are imbued with symbolic meanings.


The ornamentation in the constructions.

The group of buildings is the only extant example of traditional Asante architecture. Very few are complete. In most cases parts of the original structures have disappeared. Integrity is threatened by fabric deterioration due to the hot, humid tropical climate that is destructive of traditional earthen, adobe , and reed buildings. Heavy rain and high humidity encourage rapid mold formation on wall surfaces, as well as termite activitiesand other destructive insects that reproduce prolifically attack buildings. The intensification of agricultural tasks makes traditional construction materials, such as straw, bamboo and other timber species, difficult to obtain.


The current appearance of the buildings and their architectural form is largely authentic in terms of reflecting their traditional form and materials, although many have been largely rebuilt. In 12 of the 13 buildings, the original steep thatched roofs of palm leaves have been replaced by lighter ones, such as corrugated metal roofing, and paved floors more durable than traditional rammed earth have been inserted in all buildings.

Protection and management requirements

Between 1960 and 1970 the buildings were acquired by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) and scheduled as a National Monument under the Act of Ghana NLC Decree 387 of 1969. There is also the participation of the Chief and his elders. Therefore, the instruments for the protection of traditional Asante buildings operate on two levels: The first is a recipe of customary regulations, prohibitions and sanctions that have been passed down from generation to generation from the past. The second is the modern legal regulations enacted by the Government. The two sets of laws complement each other, and are a generally effective means of protection, even though the modes of enforcement are different. The former is embedded in the belief system and worldview of the communities where the sites are located, while the latter establishes the role of the GMMB. Part III of Executive Instrument (EI) 29 of the National Museum Regulations, 1973, provides legal protection to properties as a National Monument. The GMMB is responsible for all conservation activities on the properties. Routine inspections are carried out by GMMB staff and there are guards at all sites that report to the GMMB Regional Office. The planning and execution of intervention measures are carried out with the participation of the traditional authorities: the Local Council, members of the community and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

A strategic framework and management planning “Local Tourism Promotion Strategy framework and Management Planning for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Asante Buildings” has been put in place to ensure a sustainable development of these buildings.

The long-term challenges for the management of traditional Asante buildings are to ensure regular maintenance in order to mitigate the impacts of the hot and humid climate, and to put in place a long-term strategy to ensure a sufficient supply of organic materials. For your repair.


by Abdullah Sam
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