The different meanings and patterns of the Kente colours

The different meanings and patterns of the Kente colours

The Kente cloth is perhaps one of the most beloved fabrics to have ever come out of Africa. It creates a classic African look and has been used to make both female and male clothing over the years. It would interest you to know that there are deep significant meanings behind these traditionally handwoven fabrics that go all the way to their roots.

Though it used to be attire for the royals and the affluent, in this piece, we will share everything you need to know about the vibrant Kente fabric, the connotation of its colour composition and common Kente fabric patterns.

The tradition of making Kente

Traditionally, the Kente is made from interwoven sections of silk, today; it is woven from other materials like rayon and cotton and is worn by thousands of people for several purposes. However, one thing that remains true over the years and to indigenous people of Ghana is that I selected the patterns and colours of the Kente fabric to fit the purpose they are to be worn for.

Here are some common motif patterns of the Kente cloth and their meanings:

 

Afa

Afa means ‘I have taken it’:

 

 

Ohene Anewa

Ohene Anewa means the king’s eye or ‘the king sees everything’:

 

 

Nkyimkyim

Nkyimkyim means ‘Zigzag’- it is used to show that life can be full of twists and turns and that it usually is not a smooth sailing journey.

 

 

 

 Fatene

Fatene means ‘You go straight away to Agyeman’.

 

 

Niata

Niata means ‘Two-edged sword’.

 

 

Trom Nwoma

Trom Mwoma means ‘Droughts, Smooth weave’.

 

 

Kwadum Asa

Kwadum Asa means ‘Empty gun powder keg’.

 Image Source:

Cocoa from Ghana

 

Other common symbols include:

  • Diamond- traditionally used to denote royalty. Depicts the role of rulers as humans and kings.
  • Golden stool- this is a symbol of power.
  • Square- this is used to represent the Matrilineal nature of the Akan society. It is also used to denote the cosmos and earth, fertility, femininity, and life in general.
  • Circle- this is used to represent infinity. A symbol to show that there is no beginning and end to a lineage or royal power.
  • Triangle- this is also used to symbolise life. It is used to denote the stages of life (our birth and existence and death).
  • Cross- this is used to symbolise the spirit of life.

 

Colours of your Kente

The Kente fabric is notable for the bright and vibrant colours that undoubtedly make it an interesting piece of craftsmanship. For many creatives, it is a special piece of fabric because it requires little to no work to enhance its appearance.

Woven kente is a beautiful royal and majestic piece of African cloth. Yet, there are the deep and significant meanings behind the common colours used in creating these masterpieces!

  • Grey- denotes healing and cleansing rituals.
  • White- symbolises festive occasions, purification and sanctification rites.
  • Green- Nature. Depicts vegetation, planting and harvesting as well as growth and spiritual renewal.
  • Gold- symbolises affluence, wealth, royalty, glory and purity of the spirit.
  • Yellow- denotes wealth, royalty, preciousness, beauty and fertility.
  • Purple- mainly worn by women and associated with femininity.
  • Blue- represents harmony and love and peace.
  • Black- represents a strengthened spiritual journey and maturity.
  • Silver- this colour is used to represent the moon. It also symbolises purity, joy and serenity.
  • Pink- associated with femininity. It is used to denote the feminine essence of life. It is also a mild aspect of red.
  • Maroon- a colour used to represent the earth. It denotes healing.
  • Red- represents sacrificial rites and deaths. Spiritual and political moods.

Kente has become a worldwide fashion trend, but as you don your outfit and step out to show the world you belong, make sure you are wearing colours that are fit for your purpose! We have made sure you do not have to wear the Kente fabric to identify, with our colourful coasters and placemats selection, we are bringing Ghana to your household!

 

References:

Cocoa from Ghana: The Ghanaian Kente Cloth: Colourful, Patterns and Symbolism: https://cocoafromghana.org/cfg/ghanaian-kente-cloth-colorful-patterns-symbolism/