Kente a very popular fabric or clothing in Africa especially in Ghana among the Akan ethnic group. Kente which is also referred to as “nwentom” in the Akan language. Kente is made in the Ashanti kingdom by the Akans in the towns of Bonwire, Sakora, Ntonso, Wonno, and Adanwomase in the region of Kwabre. The Kente is worn by almost all Ghanaians and other Africans. Kente is derived from the word “Kenten” which is defined as basket in the Asante dialect of the Akans as a woven cloth. It was worn by royals in traditional times but today the trend have change as more ordinary people wear the Kente in all occasions as was not the case in olden day. But it still hold high esteem by the Akans. Kente varies in all kinds from designs, color and patterns.The Akan people give names to each Kente cloth in terms of colors, patterns, length, threads used in weaving the Kente clothing. Some of these names are from proverbs, historical events, chiefs, queen mothers and sometimes secret plants which symbolizes high value and respect.
West Africa cloth weaving has practice this culture for centuries. It was narrated that Kente was invented by two Akan friends who went hunting in the forest and found a spider weaving a web as the stood and watch the spider for two days and they later return home together and started the Kente clothing. Originally the Kente was made from cotton with indigo patterns but this has change in recent times with European traders who brought silk and with more skills the Kente is taking center stage.
In the Akan societies before some go to public to sell the Kente they have to present the first made Kente to the king to approve it, if the king decided to approve it then it is sold to the public. There are special designs worn by Asante royals and may not be worn by anyone. Kente can be used as a special gift during ceremonies such as naming ceremonies, graduations and marriages. It has been used as a sign of honor for the departed souls during ancestral ceremonies.
Kente is an African icon clothing recognized in Africa and the world. It is identified by its dazzling, multi-colored patterns, bright colors, geometric shapes and bold designs. This has been deeply loved by the African people especially Ghana. Kente clothing shows history of the true Ashanti people and include contemporary life in Ghana.
Kente as similar to many other kinds of West African weaving in its designs, it is undoubtedly a unique cloth in perfection and the colors used in the designs. The uniqueness of the Kente to the Ashanti people is the proverbs and stories attached to each designs. Sometimes this has multiple meanings with the different color, stories and proverbs.
The cloth has become very popular even among the tourist who often buy Kente inspired bags, hats and shoes when visiting Ghana. It has also become very popular internationally especially West Africa.
Every color represent a special attribute or meaning in the Akan societies, I will look at the most popular colors and will discuss in detail.
Blue stands for peace, harmony
Maroon stands for mother earth, healing and protection of from evil
Green stands for vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, good health
Silver stands for serenity, purity, joy, and moon
Gold stands for royalty, wealth, spiritual purity
Pink stands for feminism, calmness, sweetness, tenderness
Grey stands for healing or cleansing rituals, ash
Red stands for political and spiritual partners, bloodshed, sacrifice and death
White stands for purification, sanctification rites, healing
Black stands for maturity, aging, intensified spiritual energy
The Kente is still symbolic as it trace history of the Ashanti kingdom and their rich culture to the modern day Ghanaians and Africans.
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