Art and Architecture in Northern Ghana

by Fred T. Smith
Kent State University

Frafra dwelling, northern Ghana. Photo by Fred T. Smith, 1973.

The Frafra do not have a term that translates as "art," but they do recognize skilled or creative behavior, gano, and two aesthetic concepts, bambolse and pupurego. It is important to point out that for the Frafra, gano is not restricted to those skilled in producing or decorating material forms, but also includes other activities such as soothsaying, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or hunting. Bambolse as a concept means, "embellished, decorated, or made more attractive," but it can also refer to any design or motif that has no specific name. In addition this concept conveys more than just the placing of a motif on a particular form. The intention of that action must have been primarily to increase the aesthetic merit of the form if the decoration is to be classified as bambolse.