Adinkra: Traditional Symbolic Art in Ghana and West Africa

Topics: Akan people, Graphic design, Brand Pages: 3 (929 words) Published: March 24, 2013
Adinkra symbols, like many other visual symbols, have been used over many years to communicate, represent and characterize a myriad of ideas, beliefs and concepts. Originally created by the people of Gyaman, Adinkra has grown to become the most extensively used and widely known traditional symbolic art in Ghana and to an appreciable extent, West Africa. By carefully considering the depth of wisdom in the meanings of these symbols, is not surprising that they are often linked with a host of several proverbial maxims. The very essence of the word ‘Adinkra’ is ‘farewell’; as such, every symbol that is encapsulated in the whole body of Adinkra communicates or corresponds to a unique message or idea. Documented history has it that, as far back as the nineteenth century, unique Adinkra symbols were used in customary and traditional rites of society to depict the ideological stance of that society as regards to the ceremony or event in question. The art was showcased in various forms during festivals, funerals, marriages among others. Today, the use of Adinkra has been widely extended to cover almost every facet of life.

In recent times, Adinkra symbols have become a suitable choice of branding the modern, competitive, and trendy Ghanaian clothing lifestyle. Over the years, Adinkra has gone beyond traditional cloth-making designs and has been fashionably incorporated into the designing of t-shirts, buttons, linen fabric clothes. Today, young people would prefer t-shirts with screen-printing inscriptions like ‘Me firi Ghana’, with an Adinkra like ‘Gye Nyame’ boldly designed beneath. Indeed, some acclaimed Ghanaian fashion designers like Mawuli Okudzeto, Kofi Ansah among others, have received international recognition by carving such niches for themselves, with popular brand names like MKOGH and PKOG, just to mention a few. Beyond that, apparels like footwear have also had a taste of Adinkra art. Artisans who make local footwear like sandals, slippers and ‘ahenema’ have...
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