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Monday 19 March 2018


  ADINKRAHENE "chief of adinkra symbols" greatness, charisma, leadership
AKOBEN "war horn" vigilance, wariness
AKOKONAN "the leg of a hen" mercy, nurturing
AKOMA "the heart" patience & tolerance
AKOMA NTOSO "linked hearts" understanding, agreement
ASASE YE DURU "the Earth has weight" divinity of Mother Earth
BESE SAKA "sack of cola nuts" affluence, abundance, unity
BI NKA BI "no one should bite the other" peace, harmony
"help me and let me help you" cooperation, interdependence
DAME-DAME name of a board game intelligence, ingenuity
DENKYEM "crocodile" adaptability
DUAFE "wooden comb" beauty, hygiene, feminine qualities

DWENNIMMEN "ram's horns" humility and strength
EBAN "fence" love, safety, security
EPA "handcuffs" law, justice, slavery
ESE NE TEKREMA "the teeth and the tongue" friendship, interdependence
FIHANKRA "house/compound" security, safety

FOFO "a yellow-flowered plant" jealousy, envy
"siamese crocodiles" democracy, unity in diversity
GYE NYAME "except for God" supremacy of God
HWEMUDUA "measuring stick" examination, quality control
HYE WONHYE "that which cannot be burnt" imperishability, endurance
keta pa KETE PA "good bed" good marriage
kintinkantan KINTINKANTAN "puffed up extravagance" arrogance, extravagance
mate masie MATE MASIE "what I hear, I keep" wisdom, knowledge, prudence
me ware wo ME WARE WO "I shall marry you" commitment, perseverance
MMUSUYIDEE "that which removes ill luck" good fortune, sanctity
MPATAPO "knot of reconciliation" peacemaking, reconciliation
NKONSONKONSON "chain links" unity, human relations
NKYIMU the crossed divisions made on adinkra cloth before printing skillfulness, precision
NKYINKYIM "twistings" initiative, dynamism, versatility
NSAA type of hand-woven cloth excellence, genuineness, authenticity
NSOROMMA "child of the heavens" guardianship
"God is in the heavens" hope
"God never dies, therefore I cannot die" life after death
NYAME NTI "by God's grace" faith & trust in God
NYANSAPO "wisdom knot" wisdom, ingenuity, intelligence and patience
"love never loses its way home" power of love
OSRAM NE NSOROMMA "the moon and the star" love, faithfulness, harmony
OWO FORO ADOBE "snake climbing the raffia tree" steadfastness, prudence, diligence
OWUO ATWEDEE "the ladder of death" mortality
SANKOFA "return and get it" learn from the past
SANKOFA (alternate version)  
SESA WORUBAN "I change or transform my life" transformation
TAMFO BEBRE "the enemy will stew in his own juice" jealousy
WO NSA DA MU A "if your hands are in the dish" democracy, pluralism


Adinkra symbols were developed by the Ashante people of West Africa and can be traced back to the 17th century. They are part of a rich tradition.

The word "adinkra" means goodbye because originally clothes adorned with Adinkra symbols were only worn during ceremonies to honor the dead. The symbols worn on the mourner's clothing expressed the qualities attributed to the deceased.

The Ashante people living in the modern African countries of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, stamp Adinkra symbols on cloth. The symbols are created by cutting a stamp out of the thick skin of a calabash gourd. The stamp is dipped in dye, made from tree bark, and then repeatedly pressed onto cloth to create patterns. Each of the stylized patterns has a name and meaning based on a proverb or historical legend. The shapes of humans, animals, plants, and objects inspired the geometric forms of the symbols. The number of symbols continue to grow.

Today Adinkra cloth is widely worn at social occasions in Ghana and the symbols are used to decorate objects. In modern times, they are used worldwide for every-day wear, bridal, formal and special occasions.

Adinkra cloth provides a remarkable display of the values of the Ashante people, developed over many generations. The tradition continues to flourish in Ghana, today.

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