A modern outlook to symbology in visual arts among the Ewe of Ghana

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The aim of this thesis is to study symbolism in the ‘Fiaga’s’ regalia with the view to recreating selected symbols in the modern context for visual communication purposes. A breakdown of the main problem reveals the link between the lifestyles of the Ho-Ewes and their art which is represented by the ‘Fiaga’s’ regalia. The first part discusses the significance of symbol among Ewe of Ho. The sacred stool serves as a medium of religion as well as anthropological evidence. One visual proof of symbolic objects which preserves the historical past of the people of Ho is the three warrior’s staff of office. The ‘Hliha’ stone staff of office and one of several symbolic objects which are maintained through the use of the ‘Fiaga’s’ staffs of office. Another aspect of the problem revealed that the symbolic objects are composites of basic elements of art. Some of these elements were indented in selected objects such as the sacred stool, the pineapple staff of office, the double-blade state sword and the ‘Fiaga’s’ ceremonial sandals with a bird in Flight. The analysis of these selected symbolic objects showed that the elements of art were so organized as to expose balance, rhythm, contrast, symmetry, unity and harmony. The last part of the research asserts that it is possible to redesign the symbols and symbolic objects for visual communication. It has been found that the pineapple staff of office can be redesigned to be used in book illustrations. A logo was produces out of the ‘Fiaga’s’ chameleon state sword and used for a complimentary card. The ceremonial stool was redesigned in the modern content while an identification symbol was derived from the Hen and Chicken staff of office of the queen mother. Similarly, other symbolic objects –Ewe and non-Ewe alike – can be redesigned for visual communication purposes. Research for this thesis is a combination of library studies and field work. Photographs of the original symbolic objects and hand drawn representations have been used to illustrate the main theme.
A thesis submitted to the University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters Degree (African Art),1986.