Dipo: The Krobo Ghanaian Puberty Rite and Art

in Matatu
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The girl child’s transition from childhood to adulthood, Dipo, is of prime importance in the development of the Krobo community of Ghana. The transition acknowledges the part women play in the welfare of society; hence the performance of elaborate puberty rites for girls. The performance of Dipo puberty rites is therefore regarded as a means of unifying teenage women in their social role and integrating the arts of the Krobo people. Furthermore, it reveals the significance of these different art forms in the life of the Krobo people and in Dipo performance in particular. The problem, however, is that although there are several artistic elements embedded in the performance of Dipo, they have not been documented as art forms; nor have they constituteded a site for critical discussion and appraisal of Ghanaian performing arts. Early historical and anthropological scholarship on Dipo almost completely overlooks these artistic elements. This essay responds to this critical gap by situating Dipo in the context of these artifacts as displayed in multiple phases of ritual ‘installation’ performance. This essay also identifies and examines the specific artistic elements featuring in the rite in order to highlight their embeddedness in and significance to the Krobo people, and, by extension, Ghana. The artistic elements in Dipo include ritualized visual, verbal, body, and theatrical elements, all of which are active and inseparable in the rites. As such, these art forms are analysed and discussed by means of figures and plates, which confirm visually their existence, aesthetic significance, and cultural value.

Dipo: The Krobo Ghanaian Puberty Rite and Art

in Matatu

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Figures

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    Figure 1a

    Dipo girls bearing calabashes as they proceed to the stream for the bathing rite

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    Figure 1b

    calabash of clay water and herbs

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    Figure 2a–b

    Ka (earthen bowls) used to serve corn meal/red oil (abite) and cassava meal and light soup (fufu), the Krobo traditional meals (fũ-fũi)

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    Figure 3

    Pɔbuɛ (cooking pot) for cooking the millet drink and festival meals

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    Figure 4a

    Wɛtɛ (grinding stone) used to grind millet, the traditional Krobo food

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    Figure 4b

    Wɛtɛ used to grind the root of a plant which produces the colouring for body painting

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    Figure 5a

    basket hat worn by the Dipo

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    Figure 5b

    initiates wearing basket hats

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    Figure 5c

    priest wearing basket hat

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    Figure 6a–b

    Dipo girls displaying different body-art designs created with clay paste

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    Figure 7a–b

    Different types of bead, prepared for the beautification of a Dipo yo

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    Figure 8a–b

    Dipo initiates already adorned in layers of colourful beads

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    Figure 9

    Dipo initiates in the subue design covering the lower parts of the body

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    Figure 10a

    Women playing gourd musical instruments

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    Figure 10b

    Women playing gourd musical instruments

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    Figure 11a–b

    Dipo girls in different dancing scenes during the Dipo rite

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