Proverbs, Symbols and printing from The Akan people of Ghana… Everything you need to support your Adinkra Printing workshop.
Cloth in Ghana
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. It is the cloth of kings and its use tends to be restricted to important ceremonies such as weddings. The cloth is make from fine threads of silk woven on a loom into long strips of cloth – these are then hand sewn together to create larger cloths.
The colours, patterns and symbols found within the cloth are all deeply proverbial and meaningful and cloth is chosen very carefully.
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.
Adinkra cloth is made using tree resin to form a thick shiny and lasting dye. Stamp blocks are hand carved from calabash and firmly and carefully applied to the cloth. The cloth is structured to tell and story and symbols are carefully chosen for there individual and collective meanings.
This is a fun and creative activity which also engages students with a rich and diverse African culture.
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!
In this video Kwame explains how students can get hands-on and work together to produce a piece of Adinkra fabric. Kwame explains how to print Adinkra cloth and touches on some of the symbols
Adinkra Symbols and their meanings
Here is a helpful worksheet with some Adinkra symbols and the meanings. Adinkra, like the hieroglyphics of the pyramids, uses symbols to convey complex messages, historical events and philosophies. Adinkra is the product of a proverbial society and language and the symbols reflect this.
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 meanings. Your class may surprise you with how many they find! This works sheet challenges them to consider creating their own proverbs.
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Proverb and symbols explained with worksheets and video. Make your own stamps and hold a workshop.