Group of people ornamented with Ashanti-Gold Jewellery wearing variations of the traditional male Ashanti-Kente clothing (first-left, second-middle, last-right) and variant of traditional female Ashanti-Kente clothing (first-middle) worn with traditional Ashanti-Ahenemaa sandals embedded with gold-ornaments variations.
|Material||Silk fabric / Cotton fabric / Woven fabric|
|Place of origin||Ashanti people ethnic group of
Kumasi, Ashanti, Ashantiland
|Manufacturer||Ashantis / Economy of Ashanti / Printex|
|Introduced||c. 8th Century|
Kente cloth (known as Nwentom in Ashanti language), is an Ashanti type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Ashanti people ethnic group of Ashanti and the Ashantiland Peninsula.
Kente cloth has its origin with the Ashanti people and the Ashanti Empire. Kente is an Ashanti monarchy royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of Ashanti emperors-kings. Over time, the use of Ashanti kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Ashantis.
Kente is made in Kumasi capital of Ashanti and the Ashantiland Peninsula specifically (Bonwire, Adanwomase, Sakora Wonoo, Ntonso in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti) and among Ashantis. Lastly, Ashanti-Kente is worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Ashantis. Ashanti Kente is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Ashanti language. Ashantis refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth.
Symbolic meanings of the colors in Kente cloth
- black—maturation, intensified spiritual energy
- blue—peacefulness, harmony and love
- green—vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
- gold—royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
- grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
- maroon—the color of mother earth; associated with healing
- pink—assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
- purple—assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
- red—political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
- silver—serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
- white—purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
- yellow—preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, beauty
A variety of kente patterns have been invented, each of which has a certain concept or concepts traditionally associated with it. For example, the Obaakofoo Mmu Man pattern symbolizes democratic rule; Emaa Da, novel creativity and knowledge from experience; and Sika Fre Mogya, responsibility to share monetary success with one's relations.
Legend has it that kente was first made by two Ashanti friends who went hunting in an Ashanti forest and found a spider making its web. The friends stood and watched the spider for two days then returned home and implemented what they had seen. West Africa has had a cloth weaving culture for centuries via the stripweave method, but Ashanti history tells of the cloth being created independent of outsider influence.
The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Ashanti-Kente is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold designs. Ashanti-Kente characterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. The Ashanti people choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise (warp) threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants.
The origin of kente is in the Ashanti empire state of Ashanti prior to ancient-Ashantis migrating from Bonoman now named Brong-Ahafo. Ashantis migrated out of the area that was Bonoman to create various states within the Ashantiland Peninsula.
- "Kente Cloth". projectexploration.org. African Journey. projectexploration.org. 25 September 2007.
- "The Emergence of Color in Kente Cloth". csdt.rpi.edu.
- Wisdom: Adinkra Symbols & Meanings. welltempered.net.
- G. F. Kojo Arthur and Robert Rowe (2001). "Akan Kente Cloths and Motifs". Ashanti Cultural Symbols Project. Marshall University. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
- West African Wisdom: Adinkra Symbols & Meanings – Bibliography[not in citation given]
- Kwasi Konadu, Kwasi Konadu, Indigenous medicine and knowledge in African society, Routledge, 2007. pp 30–31.