Is Adinkra fabric the same as Kente?
by Chinazor Ikedimma on Sep 01, 2023
Adinkra, just like Kente, is another fabric that originated from the Akan people, who are from present-day Ghana, but it did not originate from the same region as Kente. Unlike Kente, Adinkra is not woven; instead, it is hand-printed onto fabric. Adinkra cloth is known for its symbolic designs and rich cultural heritage.
Kente originated from the Asante region, while Adinkra was originally created by the Gyaaman clans of the Brong region. According to history, the Asantes acquired the knowledge of Adinkra production when the Gyaaman monarch was assassinated during a military war at the beginning of the nineteenth century, which was brought on by the Gyaaman's attempt to duplicate the golden stool—the national emblem of the Asante nation. The Asante Hene (Asante King), Nana Osei Bonsu-Panyin, took his Adinkra gown as a prize. The robe brought with it an understanding of Adinkra aduru, the particular ink used in printing, and how to emboss designs onto cotton fabric. Over time, the Asante further developed Adinkra symbology, incorporating their own philosophies, folk tales, and culture. Adinkra symbols were also used on pottery, metalwork (especially abosodee), and are now incorporated into modern commercial designs (where their related meanings give added significance to the product), architecture, and sculpture.
Adinkra cloth is created by stamping or printing symbols onto cotton or silk fabric. These symbols are known as Adinkra symbols and carry specific meanings related to Akan proverbs, wisdom, and traditional beliefs. Traditional Adinkra fabric is made using natural dyes, typically derived from plant materials, with the most common colors being brown and black.
Adinkra, meaning "farewell," was exclusively used for significant ceremonies like funerals and was the sole property of monarchs and spiritual leaders. However, in recent times, Adinkra has been incorporated into other ceremonies like weddings and festivals. Additionally, Adinkra symbols are often infused into Kente fabrics, creating an Adinkra-Kente combo. In addition to fabric, many exported objects, such as furniture, art, ceramics, t-shirts, hats, and other apparel items, also feature Adinkra symbols. The symbols are also frequently used in tattoo designs.