Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright (c) 2012 Carol Ventura.


Craft production and use are continually adapting to meet the needs of consumers and the market in order to survive. The Adinkra and Kente cloths of Ghana are no exception, having maintained their visibility and viability by addressing changing and challenging economic and political realities. Fabric strips are sewn together to produce rectangular Adinkra and Kente cloths that are wrapped around human bodies in styles determined by gender and rank. These cloths are not only beautiful, but communicate as well. Old and new symbols representing proverbs, beliefs, and politics are woven into Kente and printed onto Adinkra cloths. Commemorative fabrics are produced to mark special occasions. Adinkra means "good bye," and was only worn during funerals, but today is seen elsewhere and communicates much more. Adinkra and Kente cloths are also metaphors for the Ashanti, who join together to form their extended family, ethnic group, religious community, and nation. Today many types of Adinkra and Kente cloths are produced to satisfy the demand for less expensive products. Adinkra and Kente patterns and colors are also found on inexpensive industrially produced cloth used to produce men's and women's western styled clothing. Patterns and colors that were at one time restricted to the Asantehene and his family are now available for all in a variety of media. This research (done in Ghana in 2008 and 2009) will look at Ashanti Kente and Adinkra production adaptation and the political messages communicated by color combinations, symbols, and how the cloths are worn.