Click the Picture to Hear the Children Singing
The Akan people are a part of one of the most ancient cultures in Africa. They span mainly throughout southern Ghana and Cote d-Ivoire and make up 44% of the total population of Ghana. They are related to the Asante Tribe. Most of what is known of the history of Akan is leanred through oration. It is said that most of the products produced by Akan people today are very similar to what has been found in archeological explorations. This suggests that the skills learned by modern day Akan are acquired through the teachings of ancestors.
For the Akan, symbols in cloth have very specific meanings. These could consist of economic indicators, cosmological and religious ideas, political ideas, and many other various symbols that represent major parts of everyday life for the Akan. This website focuses on the meaning and significance of such symbols. There are two different types of symbols. There is Adinkra cloth which consists of stamps places on woven material and Kente cloth which has its own weave patterns and colors that represent things themselves.
The first forms of cloth in West-Africa were produced from the barks of soft trees or from the hides of large animals. Early Ghanaian producers of cloth showed great talent in producing cloth from the bark of the tree known in Akan as Kyenkyen. Later Ghanaians began to make cloth from cotton. This new method of making cloth encouraged the arts of spinning, weaving and dyeing. When finished works were often dyed in different colors, depending on what the cloth would be used for. The production of cloth chintz also became a very successful industry. The lavished finished cloth was and still is worn by chiefs and other important figures. The greatest example of this is Kente, woven solely on hand operated looms. The cloth has probably never been surpassed in quality, beauty, artistry in the history of cloth-making anywhere.
How to make Adinkra
Economic Symbols Cosmological Symbols Political Symbols Other Symbols
Weaving SymbolsMeaning of Colors