Africa is a continent rich in diverse cultures and the Adinkra West African Symbols from Ghana add a great dynamic meaning to what the matured and progressive African oral tradition has to offer the world and today’s generation.
The Adinkra West African Symbols and their amazing meaning help project the African culture and its rich oral literature and symbols.
In this post, we dig deep into the Adinkra West African Symbols from the Ashantes in Ghana and what each of these history and culture-rich symbols handed down to today’s generation communicate.
The Adinkra symbols were originally designed by “Asante” Craftsment of Ghana, West Africa. The symbols embody non-verbal communicative and aesthetic values, as well as the way of life of the people who designed them. The symbols are usually printed on cotton fabric to produce “Adinkra cloths,” which may be worn on such celebrative occasions as child naming, community durbars, and funerary rituals. Each of the symbols has its Asante name and an accompanying literal English translation.
Uses of the Adinkra West African Symbols
Adinkra symbols are a set of traditional symbols from Ghana that are used to represent concepts or aphorisms. They are typically geometric in nature and are made up of a series of lines, dots, and other shapes. Each symbol has a specific meaning, and many of them are associated with specific proverbs or phrases.
Adinkra symbols have been used for centuries by the Akan people of Ghana, and they continue to be an important part of their culture today. They are used in a variety of contexts, including:
Adinkra symbols are often used to decorate fabrics, such as kente cloth. This is a traditional Ghanaian fabric that is made from hand-woven strips of cloth. Adinkra symbols are often used to create patterns on kente cloth, and they can also be used to create individual motifs.
Fabrics making or production
One of the common uses of the Adinkra Symbols today is in textile manufacturing. Most of the textiles or fabrics produced by many textile manufacturing companies in Ghana use the Adinkra Symbols for their unique designs.
These symbols can communicate from simple messages to complex proverbs and wise sayings. One Adinkra Symbol can be interpreted into an enter page of writing by adults, kings, queens, and persons who are learned when it comes to the Adinkra Symbols and their interpretation.
Again at important gatherings, the Kente cloths and other fashionables worn by chiefs and queens are specially designed with Adinkra Symbols to communicate special messages.
Pottery-making or production
Adinkra symbols are also used to decorate pottery. This is a traditional Ghanaian craft, and Adinkra symbols are often used to create designs on pots, bowls, and other objects.
Wall construction or production or beautification and designs
Adinkra symbols can also be used to decorate walls. This is a more recent trend, but it is becoming increasingly popular. Adinkra symbols can be used to create murals or other decorative designs on walls.
For Making or Producing Other Objects
Adinkra symbols can also be used to decorate other objects, such as jewelry, furniture, and clothing. They are often used as a way to add a touch of traditional Ghanaian culture to these objects.
In addition to their decorative use, Adinkra symbols also have a deeper meaning. They represent important concepts and values in Akan culture, such as wisdom, strength, and resilience. Adinkra symbols can be used as a way to communicate these values to others, and they can also be used as a way to reflect on one’s own life and experiences.
Today, Adinkra symbols are still widely used in Ghana and other parts of West Africa. They are a reminder of the rich culture and history of the Akan people, and they continue to be an important part of their lives.
Adinkra West African Symbols and Their Amazing Meaning
One of the Adinkra Symbols is the Ako-ben. The Ako-Ben symbolizes the call to arms and the willingness to take action. It is also described as a war horn. If it is used to make war regalia, it is then a call on all to join forces and battle the enemy.
Akoma is another common Adinkra Symbol that symbolizes the heart. It is a symbol that is used to press on or call people to be patient and endure. “Nyaakoma”, or “take heart.” is a word that is related to the Akoma Adinkra Symbol.
For those who are brave and courageous or want to display their level of bravery, the Adinkra Symbol that resonates with their mindset is the Aya Adinkra Symbol.
The Aya Adinkra Symbol symbolizes the fern and also means “I am not afraid of you.” It is a symbol of defiance.
A combination of the Aya Symbol and Ako-ben discussed above can communicate a powerful message to anyone.
Nkonsonkonso is another interesting Adinkra Symbol that signifies human relations. It communicates that as humans, we are linked in both life and death; those who share blood relations never break apart even after they die. This is connected to the traditional belief of the Ashantes that, there is a connection between the dead and the living and that the gods help to unite both. Some ethnic groups pour libation and pray to the gods to seek the help of the good people and kings or chiefs who have passed on for their protection among others.
A quick look at this Adinkra Symbol shows that it is a star. The name of the Adinkra Symbol in Akan is Nosoroma.
Nosoroma symbolizes a star and a child of the heavens. “A child of the Supreme Being, I do not depend on myself. My illumination is only a reflection of His.”
Ntesi-Matemasi symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. “Nyasa bun mu nne mate masie masie.”
MPATAPO -“knot of reconciliation” peacemaking, reconciliation
NEA OPE SE OBEDI HENE -“he who wants to be king” service, leadership
NSOROMMA -“child of the heavens” guardianship
Nosoroma symbolizes a star; a child of the heavens. “A child of the Supreme Being, I do not depend on myself. My illumination is only a reflection of His.”
WAWA ABA -“seed of the wawa tree” hardiness, toughness, perseverance
WOFORO DUA PA A -“when you climb a good tree” support, cooperation
- Sankofa: This symbol represents the importance of learning from the past. It is often depicted as a bird with its head turned back.
- Nananom Nkabom: This symbol represents unity and cooperation. It is often depicted as a group of hands joined together.
- Gye Nyame: This symbol represents the supreme power and sovereignty of God. It is often depicted as a hand with an eye in the palm.
- Nsuo Kantanka: This symbol represents strength and resilience. It is often depicted as a knotted rope.
- Akoma Ntokuro: This symbol represents wisdom. It is often depicted as a spider’s web.
Hope this post on Adinkra West African Symbols and their amazing meanings has been full of educative pieces of African culture.