kente is a traditional dating back centuries of years, the vibrant, colorful weavings of the Kente cloth carry different levels of meaning around the world. To the after bears of those displaced from Africa, wearing Kente cloth may represent a celebration of their roots or overcoming struggle. To the people of Gold coast, what is now modern-day Ghana, the symbolism behind each Kente design goes even deeper, as intricately woven as each cloth itself. Although Kente, as we know started in the 17th Century A.D. by the Ashanti people, it has it roots in a long tradition of weaving in Africa dating back to about 3000 B.C. The origin of Kente is explained to have a legend and historical accounts. Let’s start with the historical one.
The historical accounts trace the genesis of Kente weaving to early weaving traditions in ancient West African Kingdoms that grow at the age of 300 A.D. and 1600 A.D. Some historians say that Kente is an outgrowth of various weaving traditions that existed in West Africa before the Ashanti Kingdom came into existence in the 17th Century. Meanwhile, the legend account also says that there was a hunter called Ota Karaban and his friend Kwaku Ameyaw from the town of Bonwire learned the art of weaving by observing a spider weaving its web in the course of their hunting. Taking a hint from the spider, they wove a strip of raffia fabric and later advanced upon their skill. They reported their discovery to their then chief Nana Bobie, who in turn reported it to the Asantehene at that time. The Asantehene adopted it as a royal cloth and encouraged its production as a cloth of prestige reserved for special occasions.
Some Materials And Techniques Used In Weaving
Weaving equipment was made by the men themselves or by others who have specialized in equipment making. A set of weaving equipment are the loom (Kofi nsadua “a Friday-born loom”) which is made from wood, a set of two, four, or six heddles (asatia, asanan, or asasia) added to treadles with pulleys (wide) with spools (donowa) placed in them; shuttles (kurokurowa) with bobbins (awua) inserted in them; beaters (kyeree) and sword stick (tabon). Other materials use also are skein winder (fwirdie) and bobbin winder (dadabena), bobbins holder (menkomena) “I walk alone” used for holding bobbins (awua) during warp-laying (nhomatene), and the heddle-making frame (asakuntun or asadua)
In the olden days, yarns were either spun from locally grown cotton or cotton and silk cloths imported from Europe and Asia. But today, cotton, silk, or spun rayon yarns are obtained from factories in Ghana and outside Ghana. Different colors of yarns may be fused in particular ways to reflect the symbolic significance of the cloth. first clothes tradition has it that Kente is woven mainly by men.
SYMBOLIC MEANING OF COLORS
While those first clothes were woven using only black and white colors, dyes were brought out over time giving Kente the vibrance and variety that give it so much narrative power. Each color, just like each shape and pattern on the Kente carries a particular meaning to the wearer of the cloth.
• Black: it significant and incorporated color of Kente represents spiritual strength and maturity.
• Red: is associated with blood, sacrificial rites, and the shedding of blood and it means a sense of seriousness, readiness for a serious spiritual or political encounter.
•Blue: stands for peace, love, and harmony.
• Gold: symbolizes royalty, wealth, elegance, high status, supreme quality, glory, and spiritual purity.
• Yellow: represents wealth and royalty.
•Green: means growth, harvest, and renewal
• White: symbolizes purity, cleansing rites, and festive occasions.
• Maroon: represents Mother Earth, healing, and protection from evil.