Adinkra is a Ghanaian cotton cloth that is stamped with the sacred traditional symbols of the Akan people - the largest ethnic group in Ghana. Dating back centuries, the symbols number more than sixty and represent idioms conveying wisdom and social commentary about life in general. Each of the Adinkra symbols has a distinct meaning, often linked with proverbs. It is believed the symbols were originally the means of communicating the complex body of practice and belief in ancient Ghanaian society. It is not unusual to find some symbols with more than one design.
Adinkra symbols are used extensively in Ghanaian fabrics, pottery, logos and advertising. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural designs. The symbols are also carved on drums, stools and many other artifacts. The growth of tourism has led to more creative uses of the symbols on things like T-shirts, bags, jewelry, etc.
We are beginning an educational series on Adinkra symbols. On a regular basis, we will highlight one symbol – showing its design and meaning.
Adinkra Symbol #1 – ADINKRAHENE
Adinkrahene symbol shown above is known as the King of the Adinkra symbols. The term “hene (he-ne)” means King or Chief. This symbol is believed to have inspired the creation of other Adinkra symbols because it relates to the mind. It signifies greatness, magnanimity, charisma and the importance of effective leadership in accomplishing goals. The symbol has two primary designs.
ADINKRAHENE – SYMBOL OF GREATNESS, SUPREMACY, LEADERSHIP.