AKAN CLOTHS

AKAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS PROJECT
© G. F. Kojo Arthur and Robert Rowe - 1998-2001

AKAN CLOTH   ADINKRA   KENTE  KENTE MOTIFS   WAX & NONWAX PRINTS    ASAFO FLAGS    AKUNINTAM

056s.jpg (39773 bytes)       One of the most obvious features of the material culture of the Akan is cloth. The Akan have used cloth not only for personal adornment , but they have also used it metaphorically as a powerful expressive medium of communication.

The Akan cloths include the screen and block-printed adinkra, the hand-woven kente, the appliqued akunintam and asafo flags, and the factory-made Java and wax prints.

Variety of adinkra cloths

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The communicative aspects of cloth among the Akan have been discussed in a limited way as "proverb cloths" by Aronson (1992) and Domowitz (1992) and as "textile rhetoric" by Yankah (1995), and, in the case of adinkra, as a funerary item by Mato (1986).

Domowitz (p. 85), for example, notes that

"proverb cloths offer an accessible public voice to those who are constrained to silence."

Yankah (1995, p. 81), on the other hand, notes that the cloth design, along with the mode of wearing it may be used

"not just to praise political heroes, to commemorate historical events, and to assert social identities, but also as a form of rhetoric - a channel for the silent projection of argument."

A man wearing kwasiada adinkra

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In this project we will categorize several of the Akan cloths and motifs together with their associated verbal genres into thematic areas that address Akan cosmology, political beliefs and social organization, and Akan knowledge systems.

 

ADINKRA CLOTH

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ADINKRA CLOTH

 

The adinkra cloth is one important art object that constitutes a code in which the Akan have deposited some aspects of the sum of their knowledge, fundamental beliefs, aspects of their history, attitudes and behaviors towards the sacred, and how their society has been organized.

 
KENTE CLOTH

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KENTE CLOTH

The hand-woven kente cloth is not only valued for its aesthetic quality, but it is also valued for its symbolic and expressive quality.

The largest known kente cloth, measuring about 12X20 feet, is the piece Ghana presented to the United Nations when Ghana joined this world organization. This cloth is called tikoro nko agyina - one head does constitute a council. By this gift, Ghana expressed to the U. N. that world peace and stability should be deliberated on by both the super-powers and non-super-powers.

 
JAVA WAX & NONWAX PRINTS

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JAVA WAX & NONWAX PRINTS

 

Wax and nonwax prints in Ghana can be traced back to the famous Javanese batiks that came to West Africa through various ways such as European traders, particularly the Dutch from the 17th century or West African soldiers that served in Indonesia between 1810 and 1862. They are now produced in factories in Europe, Japan and several West African countries.

 

ASAFO FLAGS

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ASAFO FLAGS

The Akan Asafo scouting system is what Baden Powell is believed to have used as the model for the Scout Movement (Tufuo and Donkor, 1989).

 

AKUNINTAM - CLOTH OF THE GREAT

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AKUNINTAM - CLOTH OF THE GREAT

 

The producers of the akunintam employ the appliqùe technique. The symbols on the flag are appliqùed.



 
 

AKAN CULTURAL SYMBOLS PROJECT     topbttn.gif (1146 bytes)

AKAN CLOTH   ADINKRA   KENTE  KENTE MOTIFS   WAX & NONWAX PRINTS    ASAFO FLAGS    AKUNINTAM

05/11/2007