Ghana’s Kente: Meanings Behind The Cloth’s Designs And Colour
The Kente cloth, which is a type of silk fabric made of interwoven cloth strips is not just like any other ordinary cloth. Always known to be a Ghanaian fabric, almost every Ghanaian owns at least a piece of the kente cloth, either sewn or not. But over time, its usage has spread to so many other parts of Africa and the world at large. it has gone as far as the United States. it is usually worn as scarves on graduation day by thousands of African Americans and African students across the United States. Initially, the kente was only manually-woven from silk and could only be afforded and worn by royalties, but it is now AVAILABLE° in different types of machine-woven fabrics including cotton and therefore available to one and all. It is rich in beautiful brilliant multi-colours such that almost everybody loves it at first sight, Though I’m not a Ghanaian, I fell in love with the cloth and got one for myself. Even if you are not the native attire type, on seeing the kente, you would certainly fall in love with it. The kente comes in a variety of patterns, colors and designs; and has it ever crossed your mind that the various colours and design may be symbolic? Read on to find out the very interesting stories and meanings behind the kente cloth, patterns and colours.
1. Meaning of the word “Kente”
The word ,Tenter’ which means basket comes from the Akan or Ashanti dialect. The Ashanti are members of the Akan people who speak the Akan dialect. Due to the nature of the weaving of the web, the fabric the two farmers mentioned earlier produced looked like a basket which is known in the local palance as “Kenten”. The cloth then became “kenten ntoma” which over time has become Kente,
2. Legend Behind the Kente
The origin of the kente could be traced back to the Ashanti tribe of the 17th century. According to Ashanti legend, two hunters, whose names were given as Krugu Amoaya and Watah Kratan, from the village of Bonvvire(a town in Ejisu-Juaben Municipal district in the Ashanti Region of Ghana), came across a giant spider, (known as Ananse in the Akan dialect), and critically watched it spinning a web. Amazed by the web’s intricate beauty, the farmers went back to their houses curious to try and see if they could recreate something similar. They wove a cloth using fibers from a raffia tree following the patterns of the spiders web, first from white, and then black and white, They took the product to their king (the Ashanti Asantehene), Nana Osei Tutu, who reigned from 1701 to 1717. The king was so excited by the beauty of the present, that he promoted the weavers to the rank of royalty, and they became the king’s exclusive tailors. It is the home of the Akan “Kente” cloth. Kente cloth is resented for the Kings and is associated with royalty and sacredness. Even in recent times, it is worn only during IMPORTANT cd: times. Though the cloth now has a widespread acceptance and usage, it is still held in high esteem among the Akan tribe and the Ghanaians in general.
3. The Colours
The various colors that usually appear on the kente cloth represents different values and concepts of life. This why the kente is used not only for its beauty, but also for its representational qualities, Read on to find out the meanings of the popular kente colors:
The earth and its vegetation, planting, harvesting, life, growth, and good health. Blue Peacefulness (such as seen in the sky and sea), love, harmony, patience, wisdom and good fortune.
Just like that of the rising sun or the yolk of an egg, it represents fertility, preciousness, royalty, wealth, and glory. Red Political and spiritual associations; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death. Pink and Purple Associated with the female essence of life; calmness, sweetness, tenderness Black
Black is the color of bereavement, and darkness, but also of mystery and secrecy, and is mostly used in initiation and purification ceremonies. It also represents strength and maturity, ageing, intensified spiritual energy.
White derives its symbolism from the white part of the egg and from white clay which symbolize innocence, healing, and peace and is used in spiritual purification, healing, sanctification rites and festive occasions.
GREY derives its symbolism from ash. Ash is used for healing and spiritual cleansing rituals to re-create spiritual balance when spiritual blemish has occurred. It is also used in rituals for protection against malevolent spirits,
This color means royalty, wealth, and spiritual purity.