Textile design and culture and philosophies of art and symbolism are inseparably and organically linked together. Furthermore, they are not static or eternally patterned but one that is dynamic,fluid, constantly changing historically over time. Ghanaian textiles have its history and its own aesthetic concept as well as powerful emotional content. Such traits reflects the Ghanaian philosophy and artistry, that helps define the concepts of its people, their culture, social relationships, beliefs and understanding of human existence. In other words, Ghanaian designers enter into a mutual, impulsive relationship with their symbols whether traditional or contemporary, to gain a more insightful understanding both of themselves and of their conception of art (Asmah 2013). Such design product has an intrinsic artistic quality in its symbolic usage of motifs, and colours. Sirigu symbols which fit into this class are a thriving rich cultural symbolism specific to the Sirigu people of Northern Ghana. Research suggests that little attention is given to these symbols. Of late, local textiles in the country have been experiencing a glut and unappealing adaptation of Adinkra and Kente symbolism. This otherwise anonymous rich cultural heritage deserves to be used and hoisted in the Ghanaian textile industry. Such actions can set a cultural stage to expose the resourcefulness and originality of these motifs in Sirigu. Admittedly this rich cultural legacywill certainlyadd to the records of Ghanaian history.
A rural community situated in the Kassena Nankana West District, in the Upper East Region of Ghana is Sirigu. With Paga as its Administrative centre, Sirigu is reputed for its remarkable long- established mural decorations, Architecture and pottery. These artistic traditional mural decorations give cultural identity to the people of Sirigu. The community is classified among the Guinea savanna consisting of natural flora limited to widely spaced trees, shrubs, and grasses. Domestic animals reared include small herds of cattle, goats, chickens and guinea fowls. Subsistence farming is their main livelihood cultivating mainly groundnuts, sorghum, and millet.
Producing batik designs are a process of beautifying the surface or the appearance of a fabric but batik designs are much more than beautification or ornamentation. According to Wong (1972) a design on any substrate is a process of purposeful visual creation. Unlike painting and sculpture, which are the realization of artist’s personal visions and dreams, batik designs convey predetermined messages to the public. The motifs commonly used in Ghana though symbolic is usually abstract (Adinkra symbols), figurative (derived from nature), and stylised (derived from abstract or naturalistic objects). Whatever be the case, the batik product designed has to meet consumers’ requirements expressing the philosophical essence of the product. The idea therefore is to practically tackle or solve an individual or a community problem. To achieve this, the designer must understand the visual language of design (which consist of rules or concept that govern the organisation of ideas into forms) as well as the principles of design combined into visual forms to serve the aesthetic and functional purposes of the print thus produced (Asmah 2004). It is for this purpose that the researchers deem fit to use this relegated symbol of the Sirigu people for the fashionable batik product as a way of projecting and promoting these rich philosophical elements.
Like any other motifs used in batik prints, Sirigu symbols are either in stylized animal forms or symbolic geometric forms. According to Cowhey (1996), the predominant traditional Sirigu decorations are in two categories namely the two-dimensional patterns and the reliefs, or raised designs normally created on the surface area of their walls. The symbols are abstract, symbolizing the idolized elements and beliefs of the people generally taken from their environment and social lives of the people. The mode of presentation are in three different styles either in old traditional style (where old traditional colours black, white and red are used with exclusive traditional geographic symbols and totemic figures such as the cow, python and crocodile), new traditional style (where natural colours are added and more variation of traditional figures introduced) and the freestyle (where more colours and a wide variety of motifs of historical origin of the village are used). For the purpose of this paper, some selected motifs were adapted for the fashionable batik dresses.
Materials and Methods
Materials used for the project were as follows; mercerized cotton, vat dye, tracing paper, water, mild detergent, heat source (coal pots), metal bucket, aluminium pots, plastic cups and spoons, big bowls as dye-baths, rubber gloves, thumb-tacks, small plastic palette bowl for measuring dyes, wax, sodium hydrosulphite, sodium hydroxide, aprons and wooden ladle.
Tools and equipment employed in the project included, a pair of scissors, pens and pencils, cello-tape, a ruler, tjanting, masking tape, working table, pressing iron, working shed, camera, computer, water reservoir and embroidery machine.
The investigate process riveted a review of Ghanaian metaphors related to the designing of batiks to provide a global overview of the project as well as identify the appropriate method to be adopted. Structured observation was used to evaluate the selected terms of their colour, quality, material and design. Best (1981) indicate that this exercise provided the basis for assessing the value and result of the project. To ascertain their effectiveness for both functional and aesthetic purposes, motifs and design arrangements were experimented with pieces of mercerized cotton.
The study seeks to establish the fact that the concept of traditional batik design arrangements and that of Sirigu symbols combine well artistically. The designing process addressed the concept of traditional symbolism and contemporary design concepts from the perspective of African aesthetics. Colour combinations and motif arrangements were considered during the designing process. Sketches were made for the selected Sirigu motifs with its envisaged end products
Metaphoric symbols identified were made up of eight painted and five traditional motifs moulded in bas relief or incised on the walls. These motifs are richly impregnated with myths, ethics, proverbs, virtues, and reprimanding messages. The geometric motifs used are the cow referred to as the “naafo”, Kunyana’s cows known as the “Akun nyanani”, the snake buselaa” or the python waafoo”. Other geometric motifs considered were the “yagimbasa wanzagsi” (a smaller, rounded pieces of calabash), the “zaalin daa” the male essence, the zaalin -nyanga the female essence, the Saaba meaning “leather talisman or amulet”, and the Ligipelga meaning “cowry”. The figurative motifs are the niila motif described as the domesticated chicken or the guinea fowl and the fish referred to as “ziifo”. The figurative motifs depict stylized human beings and animals, the geometric designs comprise crescents, rhombuses, triangles, and hatchings, vertical and horizontal lines. There were other figurative motifs like the cow, the “Banga” meaning the lizard, and the crocodile called “Eegba” that were not selected due to purely aesthetic reasons. The other geometric motifs also not used were the waagne or Amizia Zuyaka referred to as an upturned calabash, the “Taana golma” or “sorgbelima” motifs that stand for the footpaths that linked the various homesteads in the Sirigu community and the “Agurinuuse” meaning “linked hands”.