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The Besease Shrine

Besease is a village near Ejisu (Edwesohene) on the Kumasi–Accra highway. The Besease shrine or the Yaw Tano Shrine was built by komfo Yaw Awua in the 19th century during the reign of Nana Kwaku Dɛɛkyi the Edwesohene. It houses the shrine of the Besease Tano deity known as Tano Yaw. According to Besease popular knowledge, Yaa Kyaa, an indigene of Besease and a relative of Yaa Asantewaa the Edwesohemaa, gave birth, surprisingly to a mysterious object instead of a human being It was revealed, upon consultations with mediums, that the object was the representation of a powerful deity called Tano . It was given the traditional day name on its birth as Tano Yaw or Taa Yaw, thus born on a Thursday. Yaa Kyaa then became the priestess of the deity. Tano Yaw is regarded as a protective deity, reputed to be a great protector of its people in times of war.

Both the GMMB and the French Embassy in Ghana carried out some restoration work on the Besease shrine in 1963 and 1998. It is also a relatively popular tourist attraction site. At the moment, no priest or priestess has replaced the late priest, who died about 6 years ago. However, the place is kept under the stewardship of Opanin Kofi Bonsu.

Symbolic significance of selected motifs on the Besease temple

The Besease shrine has several motifs which are similar to the motifs on the other temples. They consist of animal figures, plant forms, and abstract forms. These motifs carry symbolic ideas which are inherent in their meanings. One unique motif on the temple, however, is the nnomaa mmienu motif.

Nnomaa mmienu motif

Symbolism: Mutual understanding

This motif shows two birds (nnomaa mmienu) facing each other. They appear to be feeding from a single source. They are also linked by a series of circular lines. The motif is found at the top of the doorway of the shrine room.
This motif represents the idea of peaceful coexistence, and mutual understanding between such opposites (opposite forces) in society as day and night; male and female; life and death; young and old; and, by extension, the deity and the priest, as well as the deity and the community.
It is embedded in Asante culture and tradition that peace between opposing forces obviously brings unity, calmness, and progress in society, and avoidance of imbalance and calamities.