A primary school teacher requested information about art from different cultures. I first responded with the story of Juan de Pareja, but I had misunderstood her request. She wanted to look at patterns and designs.
Ghanaian traditional patterns on kente cloth and adinkra prints leads to an understanding of traditional beliefs and wisdom from the Akan.
Kente cloth is woven in narrow strips and has associations with people, events or happenings. It may be a political commentary and express a particular idea or virtue. Kente cloth was presented to the United Nation as an expression of a wish to bring about peace:
“The largest known kente cloth, measuring about 12X20 feet, is the piece Ghana presented to the United Nations when Ghana joined this world organization. This cloth is called tikoro nko agyina – one head does constitute a council. By this gift, Ghana expressed to the U. N. that world peace and stability should be deliberated on by both the super-powers and non-super-powers.”
“The warp threads are laid in such fashion to give a name and meaning to the cloth. At the same time, the weft designs or motifs are each given a name and meaning. These names and meanings reflect Akan beliefs, historical events, social and political organization in the Akan society, or may be named after all manner of people.”
In contrast Adinkra is a printed cloth on which symbols representing ideas and moral views are stamped.
“The adinkra cloth is one important art object that constitutes a code in which the Akan have deposited some aspects of the sum of their knowledge, fundamental beliefs, aspects of their history, attitudes and behaviors towards the sacred, and how their society has been organized.”