During the 20th century, potting took place primarily in villages west of the Banda hills (Dorbour, Dumboli, Bondakile). But based on oral histories and archaeological evidence we know that pottery was made more widely across the area in earlier centuries. Here Ann Stahl makes notes on an old clay pit located east of the Ahenkro-Bongase road a short distance south of Bongase. Chuli mountain is visible in the distance. Tall grass characteristic of the rainy season covers the area. South of Bongase, 1990.
Early in his career, art historian Roy Sieber toured Ghana studying the country's indigenous art forms (Interview with Roy Sieber, "African Arts", Vol. 25, no. 4, Oct. 1992, pg. 48). Several years later Sieber's student René Bravmann returned to west central Ghana to study the region's masking traditions. This photo of masks taken by Roy Sieber is Included in René Bravmann's photo archives with the label "Do masks at Banda, R. Sieber photo, 1960s." Masks like these are used in masquerade dances to celebrate special occasions including weddings and public festivals such as the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. In his 1974 book "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (Cambridge University Press, pg. 166), René Bravmann notes that at the time of his 1967 fieldwork there were in the "Ligbi village of Bungazi [Bongase] six Do [masks]... Interestingly enough, only three years prior to my fieldwork , Roy Sieber recorded twelve Do face masks at Bungazi. My inquiries in 1967 revealed that five of the masks had been stolen and a sixth had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer usable." The masks pictured here (1964) may be among the Bongase masks that were stolen or deteriorated by the time of Bravmann's 1967 visit. Bongase, 1964.
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Wood carvings; Rites and ceremonies; Dance; Islam; Masquerades; Marriage customs and rites; Regalia; Masks
Two Ligbi men from Bongase appear in masquerade regalia during a visit to Bongase by René A. Bravmann, then a doctoral student at Indiana University studying African art history. They wear carved wooden "Mbong" (baboon in Ligbi) masks decorated with ochre and white paint, representing a male and female animal. Their heads and shoulders are draped in scarves. They stand in front of a house with a thatched roof and a raffia shade. Scholars refer to this masking tradition as "Do," while locally it is termed "Bedu." For additional details, see Bravmann, René A. (1974) "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (Cambridge University Press), pp. 147-177. A performance of Mbong at a Banda Heritage Event in June 2019 can be viewed through a link below. Bongase, December, 1967.
A Ligbi man from Bongase wearing masquerade regalia is partially hidden from view by men carrying a cloth as they walk between thatch-roofed houses en route to the space where the masqueraders will perform. He wears a carved wooden "Mbong" (baboon in Ligbi) mask. Scholars refer to this masking tradition as "Do," while locally it is termed "Bedu." For additional details, see Bravmann, René A. (1974) "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (Cambridge University Press), pp. 147-177. Bongase, December, 1967.