Adinkra are symbols with distinct meanings traceable to rich proverbs that date back to the powerful kingdom of Kush. These iconic visual symbols represent objects that encapsulate evocative messages and communicate ancient wisdom imperative for societal prosperity, national coherence and community building.
Originally created by the Akan people of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, Adinkra symbols convey keen aphorisms and concepts (thoughts, ideas and important principles) in images. Because of their highly decorative, expressive, aesthetic and captivating quality, Adinkra symbols are used extensively in fabric designs, pottery decorations, corporate identity materials, paintings, body ink (tattoos) and advertising campaigns. They are also incorporated into walls, floor tiles, doors, ceiling designs and other architectural features. In most cases, adinkra fabrics are made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing. Adinkra symbols also appear on traditional Akan gold weights. The symbols are also carved on ritual stools and various other objects used in traditional ceremonies and for domestic use. The tourism industry has pioneered to new departures in the use of the symbols in commercial items such as ready to wear fashion jewelry and everyday clothing items.
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