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ADINKRA SYMBOLS: RELIGIOUS AND ROYALTY ICONS OF THE AKAN PEOPLE

WHAT IS ADINKRA SYMBOL?

The Adinkra symbols are one of the ancient philosophical wonders of the Akan people of Ghana. Aside from their magnificent design concepts, they are also latent with unparalleled philosophical thoughts.

These African symbols possess an embellished function with various symbolic representation of ethics, morality, advise, concepts and ideas 

Adinkra Symbols and Meanings

Approximately 400 such symbols are known in Ghana. Many of these symbols share a common basic form, and slight variations in the representation may entail a change in the meaning.

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HISTORY OR ORIGIN OF ADINKRA SYMBOL

The name “Adinkra” can be traced back to the word “Dinkra” of the Akan/Twi Language, of the Akan people of Ghana. “Dinkra” means: to be separated, taking leave or farewell. There are different views as to its origin and several theories exist to explain their creation. One account explains that the first chief priest of the Akan people who lived in the 7th century invoked from the heavens the golden stool, the royal throne which came to symbolize the power of Ashanti kings. On top of the golden stool from the heavens lay a cloth adorned with Adinkra symbols. In another account, The Akan people who were inhabitants of what is now known as Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire were able to develop noteworthy weaving skills by the 16th century with Nsoko, (present-day Begho) being a significant weaving center of that time. As per a legend among the Akan people of Ghana, the beginning of the 19th century saw a military conflict when Gyamaan king named Nana kofi Adinkra tried to copy the ‘Golden Stool,’ which represent a symbol of power as well as tribal unity of the neighboring Asante nation. The Gyamaan king was killed and his territory was also seized by the Asante kingdom. The Adinkra robe of the Gyamaan king’s was taken away by the Asante king, Nana Osei Bonsu, in the form of war’s trophy. They also received the knowledge regarding Adinkra Aduru, ( translated in english as “Adinkra Medicine” which was a special ink used for the printing process). In addition, they also got to know about the process involving the stamping of designs onto the cotton cloth. Over time the Akan people further developed the Adinkra symbology by integrating their own folk tales, philosophies, and culture.

ADINKRA CLOTH

While Adinkra symbols have been adapted to be used in everyday life on all kinds of objects, they were used in considerably more limited and reverent ways as ceremonial clothing pieces. Traditionally, Ashanti royalty, spiritual leaders, and other elites wore Adinkra cloth to special occasions, including to funerals as a way to honor the deceased. The Adinkra cloth chosen to be worn to funerals could represent traits the deceased had, evoke sentiments and messages to the deceased, or both. Only spiritual leaders and royals were able to enjoy this luxury, where a special process was used to hand-craft these one-of-a-kind cloths.


Adinkra Cloth

ADINKRA PRINTING

Traditional Adinkra cloths and clothing are stamped with carved calabash (a type of gourd common to Ghana) stamps using a dye made from the badie tree.While Adinkra symbols have been adapted to be used in everyday life on all kinds of objects, they were used in considerably more limited and reverent ways as ceremonial clothing pieces. Traditionally, Ashanti royalty, spiritual leaders, and other elites wore Adinkra cloth to special occasions, including to funerals as a way to honor the deceased. The Adinkra cloth chosen to be worn to funerals could represent traits the deceased had, evoke sentiments and messages to the deceased, or both. Only spiritual leaders and royals were able to enjoy this luxury, where a special process was used to hand-craft these one-of-a-kind cloths.

ADINKRA TATTOO

Adinkra symbols make exquisite tattoo which are used even today for beautification and style. These tattoos are even popular among celebrities..

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Adinkra symbols are no doubt a traditional wonder which is unmatchable.

While the widespread usage of Adinkra symbols is growing beyond the realms of religious icons and royalty, the symbols in their purest form are still surrounded by significant meaning by the people that use and adore them.

These symbols when used by both men and women alike, holds deep significance with underlying philosophies.

Although the symbols were created many generations back, the meaning of Ghanaian Adinkra Symbols has never died.

The significance is still very much alive to this day, and the widespread love for its power can be seen in every corner of the globe.

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