Monday, 20 February 2012

Ghana’s Fashionable Past………….

'Ashantee Belles' 1880

These ‘Ashanti Belles’ are beautiful, just look at their intricately styled hair -and the attention to detail!!! The sister on the right’s cornrow & Mohican with gold ornament hairstyle points to a more hair-intensive era, -because by the time we reach Fanti-land in 1891, 11 years later, the look is much softer, less worked on -and more relaxed!!! I wonder if its because Fanti-land was not at war with the British, -thus was more relaxed or if living on the coast -the look was more geared towards the European men in their mist (so more Euro -less intricate plaits and cornrows)?? Its uncanny how the Araba on the right looks sooo much like my friend Doris!! .

Dated: 1880 / From: "Illustrated Travels: a record of Discovery, Geograpby, and Adventure. Edited by H.W. Bates"; Published by Cassell Petter & Galpin, London, Paris & New York

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Fanti Women of Elmina, 1891

This Antique Wood Engraved Print of Fanti Women of Elmina dated 1891 is sooo beautiful but I’m sooo chicken when it comes to buying from the internet!! I’m going to go for it as its got my creative juices going. Really….I’m speechless and inspired -just look at how stylish they look??

Dated: 1891/ From "Peoples of the World", by Robert Brown, published by Cassell & Co
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Four ladies of Fashion of Tarkwa Gold Coast c.1920

Flowered silks and satins of the negro aristocracy

“The women now take great pride in arranging and dressing their hair in a variety of modes, and it is usually covered with many gold ornaments. The Coiffure-maker and dress-maker are two of the greatest friends of these devotees of fashion.”

“The customs of the leisured ladies of the Gold Coast bear testimony to the assiduous of fashion-plates. There are two classes of native women, the ‘lady’ and the ‘cloth woman’. The former is supposed to be educated, adopts English dress, and is above menial occupation. The latter wears only a cloth, is generally illiterate, and consequently becomes the drudge.”

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**Photographs by P.A McCann

Gold Coast Fashion Elite c.1920

“Gold Coast ladies conform very fully to European ideas of dress. Long skirts are the rule, with sleeveless jumpers hanging loose above.”

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The Gold Coast Bride -1920

“In bridal attire: silk cloth drapes her from waist to ankle, heavy neck lets of gold and aggry beads gleam on her uncovered bosoms.”

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Gold Coast Hair c.1920

Various stages of Coiffure-making

“Some girls of the Gold Coast have elaborate arrangement of the hair, which is worked into a knob shaped chignon: others favour a horn-shaped projections, as illustrated, or a single spike like that of a unicorn.”

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These 19th and 20th Century Gold Coast [old name for Ghana] Fashionistas have made my day, no…my year, no…my life!!! I’m thrilled to bits and inspired for life by the shear beauty of our ancestors’ swagger !!! Just look at them!!! The way they carried themselves; their fashions, the attention to detail, the hairstyles, the accessories and the umbrellas!!! Its just suddenly dawned on me that the few British women who dared to venture into, ’The Dark Continent’ would have had parasols -and that’s where we probably got the umbrella thingy (something that my own grandmother also carried on special occasions -when she wore that incredibly many layered stiff wig with the gold ornaments on -its all coming back to me). Its soooo lovely to see our past -no, and truly special to see how we dressed and so forth. Enjoy…xoxox

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