Adinkra Symbols originate in Ghana but are now heavily used by the black diaspora around the world. Ghana is well known for cloth and textiles, a strong tradition carried forward to the Woodin cloth and GTP of the present day. Perhaps the most famous (and certainly the most expensive) is the Kente cloth of the Ashanti, and the lesser known but equally beautiful Kente of the Ewe.
Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan people of Ghana and still used today to decorate fabrics, wood craft and pottery. Each symbol has its own meaning, and the processes involved in the making of the dye and adinkra stamps demonstrates great skill.
In this video Kwame explains how students can get hands-on and work together to produce a piece of Adinkra fabric. This is a fun and creative activity which also engages students with a rich and diverse African culture. Here Kwame explains how to print Adinkra cloth and touches on some of the symbols
Adinkra, like the hieroglyphics of the pyramids, uses symbols to convey complex messages, historical events and philosophies.
Adinkra is from a proverbial society and language and the symbols reflect this.
A proverb is a little story of phrase which can have one or many meanings. In Ghana even simple statements like ‘I am happy’ are represented by proverbs. For example “Me Ni A Gi” is translated as ‘my eye has gained something’. This simply means I’m happy!
Here are some Ghanaian proverbs along with some ideas for their use within the classroom. Proverbs can be very simple and straight forward, but they often have an additional deeper meaning. Your class may surprise you with how many they find! This works sheet will also challenge them to consider creating their own proverbs.
Here is a helpful worksheet with some Adinkra symbols and the meanings