Sunday, 11 September 2011

Beads and Trees

 Beads are an important component of Ghanaian culture and decoration. You can buy them everywhere and there are some huge and well known markets around the south of Ghana, selling new and ancient beads. "Cedi Beads" has very small premises including a shop the size of most people's bathroom! However, they export beads all over the world.
We were the only visitors having found our way down a very long. uneven dirt road and were greeted by a man who seemed to be the only member of staff there, except 3 girls stringing beads and chatting. He showed us meticulously, the whole process of bead making including how they build the kilns.
Small moulds for each bead are made with kaolin clay. Ground coloured glass from bottles is used in layers to make patterns in some beads and also old beads are re-formed to make new ones. Decoration is done with a sharp stick and a slip mixture before a second firing in the kiln. Kilns are built from the clay of termite hills as it is finer and stronger. All the materials are found locally to reduce costs. The sticks in the middle of the mould that allow the hole through the bead are from Cassava plants as they burn without leaving ash. Every part of the process is so simple and so carefully performed......for each bead!
Then they are polished. It won't surprise you to learn that we bought some.

Bunso Arboretum is home to a wide range of amazing and huge trees and shrubs. The Ofram Tree grows to quite a height and throws out massive buttress roots. These have been used to send messages by hitting them with a beater so that they resounds like a drum.

There were "cheese plants" (Monstra) growing in the canopy of this tree and their aerial roots reached the ground. Ali climbed some way up them.

There were so many trees that I hadn't seen before and some had special medicinal qualities. All were growing healthily and massively in perfect humid conditions.

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