African culture has always been full of various forms of art, like the Benin art from the ancient Edo empire to our subject for today, Adinkra. These arts, symbols and their meanings are a huge form that connects to not just culture, but also the ancient spirituality of the various ethnicities present in Africa.
Adinkra symbols originated in modern-day Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire from the Asante/Ashanti people who would print them on fabrics and inscribe them on pottery and metalwork according to how they related to their meanings.
These Adinkra symbols represent popular proverbs and maxims, record historical events, and express particular attitudes or behavior related to depicted figures, or concepts uniquely related to abstract shapes. Adikra symbols with meaning.
The word Adinkra means ‘farewell’ or ‘goodbye’ in Twi, and for this reason, the fabric called Adinkra cloth is mostly worn for special occasions, especially funerals. Traditionally, Adinkra cloth is hand woven and specially printed using calabash stamps.
The cultural implications and meaning of the Adinkra symbols have extended so much that it is now incorporated into modern art expressions such as tattoos, tourism merchandise like t-shirts, shorts, key holders, and sometimes, branding for organizations. The University of Ghana currently uses Adinkra iconography in its official logo and crest.
Need a little inspiration for your next tattoo or printable wear, we are sharing the loveliest Adinkra symbols and their interpretations to help you out.
Check out 35 Adinkra symbols and their meanings…
Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan
Symbol: Love does not miss its way home
Meaning: Those led by love will never lose their way.
Meaning: A symbol of patience and tolerance.
Symbol: A Star
Meaning: Child of the heavens.
Symbol: The enemy will suffer
Meaning: A symbol connoting the awareness of ill-will, jealousy, and envy.
Meaning: A symbol of adaptability, cleverness.
Symbol: A wooden comb
Meaning: A symbol of beauty, hygiene, feminine qualities.
Nyame Nnwu Na Mawu
Symbol: God never dies, therefore, I cannot die
Meaning: A symbol of the immortality of man (man’s soul).
Symbol: Return and get it
Meaning: Learn from the past.
Symbol: Ram’s horns
Meaning: A symbol of strength and humility.
Symbol: Extension of the heart
Meaning: Charter, agreement.
Symbol: Palm tree
Meaning: A symbol of wealth, resourcefulness, and self-sufficiency.
Symbol: God’s tree (sacred stump)
Meaning: A symbol of God’s presence and protection.
Symbol: War horn
Meaning: A symbol of vigilance and wariness.
Kuronti Ne Akwamu
Symbol: Kuronti and Akwamu
Meaning: A symbol of democracy, sharing ideas, taking council.
Symbol: Leg of a hen
Meaning: A symbol of nurturing coupled with discipline.
Symbol: Measuring rod (investigation rod)
Meaning: A symbol of high quality and excellence.
Symbol: Pacification knot
Meaning: A symbol of pacification, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Symbol: Good farmer
Meaning: A symbol of diligence, hard work, entrepreneurship.
Meaning: A symbol of unity, community.
Symbol: Executioner’s knife
Meaning: A symbol of justice
Menso Wo Kenten
Symbol: I am not carrying your basket
Meaning: A symbol of industry, self-reliance, and economic self-determination.
Symbol: He who does not know.
Meaning: A symbol of knowledge and learning.
Symbol: Conjoined crocodiles
Meaning: A symbol of unity in diversity given a common destiny; sharing.
Symbol: Well-ventilated house
Meaning: A symbol of resilience and readiness to face the vicissitudes of life.
Osram Ne Nsoromma
Symbol: Moon and star
Meaning: A symbol of faithfulness, fidelity.
Woforo Dua Pa A
Symbol: When you climb a good tree
Meaning: A symbol of support for good causes.
Symbol: Except for God
Meaning: A symbol expressing the omnipotence of God.
Symbol: Sack of cola nuts
Meaning: A symbol of affluence, power, and abundance.
Symbol: Five tufts (of hair)
Meaning: A symbol of loyalty and priestly office.
Meaning: A symbol of slavery, law, and order.
Symbol: Time changes
Meaning: A symbol of the temporariness of good times.
Meaning: A symbol depicting the twists and turns in the journey of life.
Meaning: A symbol of understanding and cooperation.
Symbol: King of Adinkra symbols
Meaning: A symbol of leadership and charisma.
Symbol: The ladder of death
Meaning: A symbol of the certainty and universality of death.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram | Kika Osunde
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A life, style and culture writer with a borderline obsession for 80s fashion, though I made landfall a decade later. At Style Rave, we aim to inspire our readers by providing engaging content to not just entertain but to inform and empower you as you ASPIRE to become more stylish, live smarter and be healthier. Follow us on Instagram @StyleRave_ ♥