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Adinkra Symbols

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"Adinkra" symbols have been designed by craftsmen of old and used by the Asantes of Ghana for many years. There is a wide variety of "Adinkra" symbols and each symbol has a local Akan name. The use of these symbols dates back to many generations. Adinkra symbols are multi-functional. They are appreciated for both their aesthetic and communicative values.

They are non-verbal illustrations of proverbs, parables and maxims, which portray philosophical, educational, historical and cultural values of the Asantes of Ghana. Adinkra symbols are becoming increasingly popular for cross cultural education and a source of inspiration for visual creative expressions and international fashion. The "Adinkra" cloth is made by creating lines with a wooden comb-like tool on cotton fabric. Adinkra  pattern stamps made from dried calabash  are  then dipped into a locally produced dye from the “badie” tree and printed on to the cotton fabric

The "Adinkra" cloth is not washed. "Adinkra" means farewell, hence its original  use as a special cloth for funerals and solemn occasions. In recent times  the adinkra cloth  is seen and worn on many other occasions ,ingeniously combined  with kente designs .  The indigenous well-known "adinkra" cloth producing areas are Ntonso and Asokwa in the Ashanti Region.


Sankofa - (translation) going back to my beginnings

Going back to my roots, to undo or correct mistakes; to build and plan a better future.


Adinkrahene - (translation ) chief of all adinkra symbols

 Symbol of greatness, charisma and leadership


Akoma (translation ) - heart

Symbol of patience and tolerance


Gye Nyame - (transaltion) except God

Symbol of supremacy, Omnipotence of God the Divine Creator


Nyame Biribi Wo Soro (translation) God there is something in the heavens for me

Symbol of hope.


 Epa (translation) handcuffs

Symbol of Captivity and Slavery Do not condone or  tolerate slavery.You are a slave of him whose handcuffs you allow on you

 Ohene Aniwa (The King's eyes)

Symbol of Vigilance and wariness The king has eyes every where


 Akofena (translation )- sword

Symbol of authority and gallantry . A great retiring warrior deserves his honour


 Ntesie (translation)I have heard and kept it 

a symbol signifying the need for imbibing knowledge, information, wisdom and prudence.


Nkyinkyin (translation) - twisting

a symbol signifying versatility ability to adapt one’s self to take up or play many roles


Aya (translatio) - fern

a symbol signifying endurance and resourcefulness 

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