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The Field spirits of the Fante describes the journey of nine wooden carvings from a field in Ghana’s Western Region to the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum in Florida, USA.

 

Central to the story is professor Nana Araba Apt, a Ghanaian academic and an avid collector of African Art. She recognised the importance of the field spirits that were placed in the fields and around the homes of the Fante, part of the Akan people of the former Gold Coast in West Africa.

 

The nine field spirits, or ‘batebas’, were created by Lobi craftsmen between 1870 and 1940, and were designed to protect flocks, crops, children, homes, hunters and providers. Although converted to Christianity, the Fante often held fast to ancient beliefs and superstitions. But creating pagan objects such as these spirits would have been frowned upon. Lobi woodcarvers, however, remained devoted to their traditional beliefs and their spirit figures were considered as living beings.

 

These nine carvings belonged to Nana’s paternal grandfather, a farmer near Cape Coast. When he stopped farming around 1950, the pieces were taken off the fields and kept in storage and later moved to Nana’s home in Accra. Left in the fields, these wooden carving would have been destroyed due to exposure to the environment and insects, particular termites. As a result, few field spirits were saved, making this collection unique.

 

On Nana Araba’s death in 2017, the executor of the will entrusted her friend and colleague, Richard Douglass to find a suitable home for the collection.

 

The book describes how the collection was transported from Ghana to Michigan where Richard and his wife Marian Horowitz undertook the cleaning and preservation process and the decision to offer the collection to the Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, an HBCU (Historical Black College or University) with a core mission in agriculture.

 

The publication of this book accompanies the collection at the Meek-Easton Black Archives Research Center and Museum of the Florida A&M University and seeks to encourage further research into the Fante myths and the relationship between them and the Lobi.

 

The cost of transportation, cleaning and preservation, as well as the publication of the book was made possible through the endowment by the estate of Marian Horowitz in 2020.

Field Spirits of the Fante

SKU: ISBN9780956967053
£16.00Price
  • The Field Spirits of the Fante

    ISBN 9780956967053

    Published June 2021 by Mot Juste

    Size: 210 x 270mm

    48 pages, printed in full colour with many photographs of the wood carvings.

    £16.50 including shipping

  • Richard Douglass is a 55-year veteran social epidemiologist with experience via CDC, The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Ashesi University. and the University of Ghana-Legon.

    He was a colleague and friend of Professor Nana Araba Apt and spent time with her in her house in Accra where he found out about the history of the wood carvings.

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