African Arts of Healing and Divination

Art, Divination and Healing in Burkina Faso and Ghana:
researching the exhibition “African Arts of Healing and Divination”,
Harn Museum of Art, 2007

Susan Cooksey, Curator of African Art, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

Summary of Research, 2006

In spring of 2006, I traveled to Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana with the assistance of a Center grant for the purpose of conducting research on the arts of healing and divination. This research was done as a follow-up to my earlier study in Burkina Faso of diviners in 1997-1999, which was the catalyst for an exhibition, “African arts of Healing and Divination” at the Harn Museum of Art, of the University of Florida, open from February 20, 2007 to June 24, 2007 1. My research in 2006 was done in a period of a little over three weeks. It included revisiting my former research site, the village Toussiana in southwest Burkina Faso, as well as visits to Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, Kumasi and Accra in Ghana, and Bamako, Mali. The following discussion focuses on research in Toussiana and in Kumasi. In Toussiana, I was a participant-observer in divination and healing ceremonies and in a ceremony honoring a deceased diviner. Also in Toussiana, I observed and interviewed Dafing weavers who produce sacred textiles for divination, and acquired examples of their work, and other comparative examples from other sources. In Kumasi, I interviewed the artist, Kwame Akoto in his workshop, and commissioned two paintings about current health issues, one of which is included in the Harn exhibition.


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