Woodcarving is a time-honored craft in Ghana with a rich cultural history (more on the myths & meanings behind it here). Legend has it that in olden times a man named Akwasi Yoyo traveled to the Ashanti kingdom of Denkyira, where he learned the craft of woodcarving. After mastering these skills, he brought his finished carvings back to his hometown (which today is called “Ahwiaa”) and showed them to the King. The King was so impressed that he instructed the entire village to learn and practice the art form. Since then, this beautiful craft has been passed down from family to family, generation to generation.
The Ahwiaa Wood Carvers Association carries on this legacy by continuing the practice of traditional wood-carving today, creating beautiful handmade products ranging from Ashanti warrior masks, to traditional fertility dolls, beaded stools, and more.
The handmade process all starts with—you guessed it!—wood. The carvers source wood from a nearby forest and work with a range of locally-grown trees, including cedar, tweneboa, mahogany, teak, and pawpaw. To create the intricately detailed wooden objects you see on our site, the artisans start by sketching their designs directly onto the wood and then carving out the desired shape with a hacking knife. They then switch to a smaller, more refined knife to shave the piece down and carve out fine details.
After sanding and polishing, the artisans add finishing touches and design elements to each product ranging from wood stains, to brightly colored paint, delicate beads, cowrie shells and more! The final results? Unique, handcrafted products that showcase Ghana’s beautiful raw materials, rich cultural histories, and impeccable craftsmanship.
For the artisans of the Ahwiaa Woodcarvers Association, woodcarving is not only a lifelong art form, but also a source of livelihood. As many of these craftsmen are dads, we chatted a few of them to hear more about what fatherhood means to them and why they come into work everyday. Here’s what they shared with us:
“Being a father is a difficult but important task. Sometimes when we wake up in the morning, I have nothing in my pocket. All I want is to be able to provide for my family. I want to be able to give my children what they need in life to help them be successful and become good leaders in the future. It’s what every father wants.” – Adom Gyamfi
“I love it when my children welcome me and come to meet me when I return from work. It makes me happy to answer all their curious questions. I feel so proud when I hear good reports about my daughter from school. She is well known and applauded for her good conduct and her passion for keeping the school clean.” – Yaw Antwi.
We are so excited to support these artisans as they seek to support and enrich their families! To all the rad dads in Ghana and around the world, we wish you a very happy Father’s Day!
To shop products handmade by the artisans of the Ahwiaa Wood Carvers Association, click here.