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Newsletter

Adinkra Symbols

January 2004

West Afrika is renown for its textiles and since Adinkra symbols originated in this region, they are very common in the motifs of the fabric.

Adinkra Symbols
Adinkra is named for King Adinkera, who was from the area presently known as the Ivory Coast. According to legend Adinkera had been copying the symbols on the golden stool, which was highly revered by the Ashanti people (present day Ghana). Angered by this sacrilegious act, the Ashanti King Bonsu-Panyin, declared war. Adinkera lost the war as well as his life and the cloth that he wore depicting the sacred symbols, was taken and displayed by the Ashanti as a symbol of the victory. Thus began the practice of stamping cloth.

Adinkra means farewell or goodbye and was worn only by royalty and spiritual leaders. The display of the symbols demonstrated respect for or/and communication with the ancestors.
Today, there are several hundred Adinkra symbols many of which are used in clothing, home decor, and even as logos.

1. MATE MASIE: "what I hear, I keep" - wisdon, knowledge, prudence
2. NKYIMU: the crosed divisions made on adinkra cloth before printing - skillfulness, precision
3. GYE NYAME: "except for God" - supremacy of God

Crystal Morrison
January, 2004

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