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Adinkra Symbology

Adinkra Symbology

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Published by: coolsarah13002027 on May 04, 2010
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Adinkra Symbology
The Origin and Meaning of Adinkra Symbols
Adinkra is a cotton cloth produced in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire which has traditional Akansymbols stamped upon it. The adinkra symbols represent popular proverbs and maxims, recordhistorical events, express particular attitudes or behaviour related to depicted figures, or conceptsuniquely related to abstract shapes. It is one of several traditional cloths produced in the region ± the other well known cloths being kente and adanudo.The Akan people (of what is now Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire) had developed significant skills inweaving by the sixteenth century, with Nsoko (present day Begho) an important weaving centre.Adinkra, originally produced by the Gyaaman clans of the Brong region, was the exclusive rightof royalty and spiritual leaders, and only used for important ceremonies such as funerals ± adinkra means 'goodbye'.During a military conflict at the beginning of the nineteenth century, caused by the Gyaamantrying to copy the neighbouring Asante's 'golden stool' (the symbol of the Asante nation), theGyaaman king was killed. His adinkra robe was taken by Nana Osei Bonsu-Panyin, the
 Asante Hene
(Asante King), as a trophy. With the robe came the knowledge of adinkra aduru (thespecial ink used in the printing process) and the process of stamping the designs onto cottoncloth.Over time the Asante further developed adinkra symbology, incorporating their own philosophies, folk-tales and culture. Adinkra symbols were also used on pottery, metal work (especially
), and are now incorporated into modern commercial designs (where their related meanings give added significance to the product), architecture and sculpture.Adinkra cloth is more widely available today, although the traditional methods of production arevery much in use. The traditional ink (
adinkra aduru
) used for stamping is obtained by boilingthe bark of the Badie tree with iron slag. (Because the ink is not fixed, the material should not bewashed!) Adinkra cloth is used in Ghana for special occasions such as weddings and initiationrites.
 Note that African fabrics often differ between those made for local use - usually replete withhidden meanings or local proverbs - allowing locals to make a particular statements with their costume ± and those fabrics produced for overseas markets which tend to use more 'sanitised'symbology.
are visualsymbols, originally created by theAkanof Ghanaand the Gyaman of Cote d'Ivoirein West Africa, that representconceptsoraphorisms.
are used on fabric, walls, in pottery,woodcarvings and logos. Fabric
are often made bywoodcut sign writingas well asscreen printing. They also can be used to communicate evocativemessagesthat represent parts of theirlifeor those around them.
Adinkra Cloth
 Michelle Dressler 
Adinkra cloth is a hand printed fabric. The origin of Adinkra cloth is traced to theAshanti people of Ghana. Initially the cloths were made for royalty to be worn at religiousceremonies. Adinkra cloth is decorated with traditional symbols that covey the thoughts andfeelings of the person wearing them. The fabric of adinkra cloth is divided into squares by linesdrawn using a bark dye and then stamped with gourds that have been carved with designs.
They should explain how their prints are reflective of traditional Ghana culture and the land. Explainhow the Ashanti people of Ghana once used adinkra cloths exclusively for royalty but in recent yearsthat has changed.
Ghana has the highest percentage of Christians in West Africa, but the belief in traditionalanimist religions is still extremely common.
Adinkra Symbols
 is one of the highly valued hand-printed and hand-embroidered cloths. Its origin is traced tothe Asante people of Ghana and the Gyaman people of Cote' d'lvoire (Ivory Coast).However, the production and use of Adinkra have come to be more associated with theAsante people than any other group of people. Around the 19th Century, the Asante peopledeveloped their unique art of adinkra printing. Adinkra clothes were made and usedexclusively by the royalty and spiritual leaders for very important sacred ceremonies andrituals.

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