Week 16: Kente, Bogolanfini, & Adinkra

Where did this cloth come from?

How was it made?

What's going on with these symbols?



Answers:

Where did this cloth come from?

The bright stripes on this large cloth are Kente cloth. Kente cloth originates with the Ashanti people in the West African country of Ghana. It has a long history:

According to Ashanti legend, two farmers, Krugu Amoaya and Watah Kraban, from the village of Bonwire, came across a spider, Ananse, spinning a web. Amazed by the web’s beauty, the farmers returned to their homes eager to try and recreate the web. They wove a cloth first from white, and then black and white, fibers from a raffia tree. They then presented their cloth to the Ashanti Asantehene, or king, Nana Osei Tutu (who reigned from 1701 to 1717).

What is the second kind of cloth?

Click here to see an example of another type of cloth. This is bogolanfini, or mud cloth, which is made in Mali, another country in West Africa. It is made from cotton, which is then dyed with fermented mud. It is an important symbol of Malian culture, worn by women and men in a wide range of settings.

What's going on with these symbols?

Some of the symbols on these cloths come from an Ashanti tradition called Adinkra. Each symbol has a meaning, which has grown out of generations of use. You can see these beautiful fabrics and many others on display right now in the Karshner Center's Foyer exhibit, Colors & Rhythms of Africa.



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