Focus on... Kente Cloth

Kente Cloth is probably one of the most beautifully colorful of all African textiles. In fact, each color has a specific meaning and they are chosen with care and intent by those who weave the cloth.

Kente Cloth is native to the Akan ethnic group and the Bonoman empire of South Ghana. It is made of interwoven cloths strips made of silk and cotton.

Ghana, Africa

Legend has it that two Akan friends from the town of Bonwire who went hunting, found a spider making its web. They continued to watch for two days, and were so taken with the web that they decided to try to recreate what they had seen. Today, Bonwire is still the most famous Kente cloth weaving centre.

The Importance of Color

Kente Cloth was originally black and white, but with the development of dyes from different plants, a range of colors evolved. Each color holds significance and meaning in a cloth.

 

 

 Color Meaning
Black maturation, ageing, intensified spiritual energy
Blue peacefulness, harmony, good fortune, love
Gold royalty, wealth, spiritual purity
Green vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, good health
Grey healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
Maroon mother earth; associated with healing and protection from evil
Pink female essence of life; calmness, sweetness, tenderness
Red political and spiritual associations; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death
Silver serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
White purification, sanctification rites, healing
Yellow preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility (yolk of an egg)

 

 The Significance of Design

Not only do the colors have special meaning, but the geometric patterns woven within it also hold significance that relate to the history or beliefs of the Ashanti people. Some of the patterns and their meanings are:

 Geometric Pattern Meaning
Afa - I have taken it. Afa - I have taken it.
Ohene Anewa - The king's eye, The king sees everything Ohene Anewa - The king's eye, The king sees everything
Nkyimkyim - Zigzag, Life is not a straight path Nkyimkyim - Zigzag, Life is not a straight path
Niata - Two-edged sword Niata - Two-edged sword
Trom Nwoma - Droughts, Smooth weave Trom Nwoma - Droughts, Smooth weave

 


- Patterns and their meanings retrieved from http://csdt.rpi.edu/african/kente/patterns.html

 

Nowadays, Kente Cloth is being used worldwide in a variety of ways. High school and university graduates wear Kente stoles over their gowns, and numerous home goods and fashion accessories have been crafted from the beautiful textiles.

The Making of Kente Cloth - Video

 

Chameleon Goods offers a range of shoulder bags and clutches featuring Kente cloth. Shop for yours today!

 

 

 

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