Among the Akan-speaking peoples of southern Ghana and adjacent Côte d'Ivoire, ritual pottery and figurative terracottas are used in connection with funeral practices that date at least to the 1600s. Much of what we know about ancient Akan customs comes to us in the form of oral histories which have survived for several hundred years. Many of the objects that have been recovered through archaeological methods are still produced in modified form among Akan peoples today. The rise of the early Akan centralized states can be traced to the 13th century, and is likely related to the opening of trade routes established to move gold throughout the region. It was not until the end of the 17th century, however, that the grand Asante Kingdom emerged in the central forest region of Ghana, when several small states united under the Chief of Kumasi in a move to achieve political freedom from the Denkyira. (For descriptions of modern related cultures, see the entries for Anyi, Aowin, Akuapem, Baule, Asante.)

Facts about Akan


Explore a map of Akan peoples and their neighbors in Ghana and southeastern Côte d'Ivoire


Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana


Akan cluster of Twi languages


4 million

Neighboring Peoples

Dagomba, Senufo, Malinke, Guro, Ewe, Yaure