Adinkra Abokes3m 3na 3mu Asekyer3 - History Of Adinkra & Its Symbolism

Yaanom! Mema Mo Akwaaba! Mekyea Mo Nyinaa! A big hello to all my loyal and new readers, it is always a pleasure writing to you guys, truly. Today, we will be covering the topic of the “Adinkra symbols”. Yes, this topic has been way overdue and it is finally here! There are many articles out there, as well as numerous scholarly books... but because I needed this article to be highly accurate, I made it my duty to visit the library of Legon University for this one (yea this girl does not play!).





Yaanom! Mema Mo Akwaaba! Mekyea Mo Nyinaa! A big hello to all my loyal and new readers, it is always a pleasure writing to you guys, truly. Today, we will be covering the topic of the “Adinkra symbols”. Yes, this topic has been way overdue and it is finally here! There are many articles out there, as well as numerous scholarly books... but because I needed this article to be highly accurate, I made it my duty to visit the library of Legon University for this one (yea this girl does not play!). 

But all I could find was their names, meanings and proverbial explanations… and that was simply not sufficient enough for me. As a researcher, I have learnt that we Ghanaians, and in particular our ancestors, did not just draw up random symbols simply because they wanted to… but I believed that there must have been a reason for designing a symbol a certain way, a reason for why the symbols look the way they do. I was interested in all the above and so much more. 




I wanted to know the linguistic and semiotic explanations of all these symbols, and by that I mean I wanted to truly understand their names (down to the very root) and find correlations between their symbolism and their visual structures. And after long (and I mean very long) and extensive research I am finally pleased. I have to tell you though, this article was by far the most tedious one I’ve written so far. Simply because the analysis time of each symbol varied so much. 
Some symbols took me 5 minutes, some took me a couple of hours, and some even had the audacity to be so insanely complex and abstract that it literally took me a couple of days to my biggest frustration (yea... struggle did get that real!). But I got nothing but love for you guys so taking one for the team here (smiling). I am finally satisfied with the results and I'm anxious to share these with you, so do get comfortable.
A little bit of history... The Adinkra symbols were created by the Akan of Ghana and also by the Gyaman of Côte D’Ivoire in the early 1800’s for communication purposes. Now "Adinkra" was actually the name of a king of Gyaman (present day Côte D’Ivoire) called Nana Kofi Adinkra. And this king was captured by the Ashanti with the offense that he had copied the "Golden Stool" (click "here" for the article on that topic), and we all know by now that that is simply a big no-no... 
The Golden Stool is incredibly sacred to the Ashanti! So anyways, when he was captured, the Ashanti noticed that this king was always wearing patterned cloth, which was meant to symbolize his grief for being captured. Now the word “Adinkra” is an Akan word (in Ghana) which means “Farewell” or “Goodbye” and so the "Adinkra symbols" became a visual system of various symbolic representations of ethics, morality, advice, concepts and ideas. 
These symbols were printed on fabrics that were to be worn on funerals to pay the last respects with the purpose of sharing subtle underlying messages. The beautiful part of this is, not everybody back then was able to read or write, but almost everybody did understand these symbols, so it became an oral tradition, an illustrated verbal system that worked. If you travel to Ghana, you simply cannot go through a day without seeing at least 5 symbols pictured, carved or painted somewhere, they are truly that popular. And to ease you a bit into the topic, do enjoy this short introductory video created by yours truly.
You’re welcome back! Now "Ananse and His New Wife" is a fun narrated tale in which I tried to get you more acquainted with the Adinkra symbols, so I sincerely hope I was able to do that for you. Okay so in this article I will be presenting you the original 63 Adinkra symbols which happen to be the most popular ones (considering there are hundreds of them out there). Now I know this is quite an extensive article but do not worry though, you are not required to read it from A to Z, but you are allowed to jump around randomly, because all the Adinkra symbols are numbered. So that way it’ll be easier and much more fun to read. I’m ready when you are… let’s get started, here we go! Ow wait... and after you’re done reading, you can click "here" and this will redirect you to an online quiz I made for you guys (I promise it’s all fun and games). Let me know how well you did! Okay now let’s go!
(1.) This symbol is called “Adinkrahene” and it stands for greatness, charisma and leadership. Now "Adinkra" is a historical name (which was established in the introduction) and “Hene” in the Akan language means “King”. When we take a good look at this symbol you’ll notice a black dot in the middle and 3 black concentric circles around it. Way back it was believed that “Ohene Y3 Owia”, meaning “The King is the Sun”. So just as the planets rotate around the sun in our solar system, making it the most important object, so does the “Hene” who is pictured as the dot. Now the concentric circles around this dot represent the people in his kingdom, and the dot represents the king, making the king the most important person.
(2.) This symbol is called “Fofo” and it stands for jealousy and envy. Now the reason why this symbol has a flower kind of look is because it is actually named after the fofo plant, which has yellow-like flowers. Now when its pedals drop, they turn into black spiky-like seeds. There is an Akan proverb associated with this Adinkra symbol which goes “Sedee Fofo Pe Ne Se Gyinantwi Abo Bidie” and this means “The Fofo Plant Wants The Gyinantwi Seed To Turn Black”. Meaning, others can wish misfortune for you during your endeavors... so be cautious!
(3.) This symbol is called “Funtunfunefu-Denkyemfunefu” and it stands for unity and democracy. When we look at this Adinkra symbol, we see 2 crocodiles intertwined. Now legend has it that Funtunfunefu and Denkyemfunefu were 2 Siamese crocodiles, they had 2 individual bodies…but…they shared one stomach (as you can see in this Adinkra symbol). And the irony is that they would fight over food all the time, even though they share the same stomach! This symbol teaches us that even though we all seem like independent individuals, at the end of the day we are all fighting for the same cause, so we need to unite.
(4.) This symbol is called “Akoben” and it stands for wariness, vigilance and readiness/preparedness. “Ako” in the Akan language means “War” and “Ben” means “Horn”. In the olden days, this horn was blown by the Chief and it signified an immediate call for arms (looked pretty much like the symbol you see here). The chief’s horn was embellished and decorated with jaw bones of the defeated enemies because it was believed that horns like these sang the praises of the chief through the jaws of the enemy.
(5.) This symbol is called “Fihankra” and it stands for security and protection. In the Akan language "Fi" means house and "Hankra" means compound. And so fihankra literally means compound house. Now the compound houses back then were built in such a way that there was a quadrangle center and all the four sides of this center consisted of rooms which enclosed the center space, which is what we see when looking at this symbol. And finally, these houses had one entrance which also served as the exit, for security purposes.
(6.) This symbol is called “Akofena”. Now in the Akan language "Ako" means war and "Fena" means sword. And so this Adinkra symbol stands for bravery, war and heroism. This symbol is quite self-explanatory, you do see 2 swords crossing each other, symbolizing that war always includes the other participant, the opposition, the enemy.
(7.) This symbol is called “Ese Ne Tekrema” which literally translates as “teeth and tongue” and this symbolizes the beautiful harmony in friendships. You can actually see the teeth and the tongue in this Adinkra symbol when you turn it horizontally (with a bit of imagination). Anyways, just the way the teeth and tongue are separate parts in the mouth, they are still dependent on one another and so they come together to work for the same cause. This is also true for all the interrelations between humans. We are social beings and so we need friendships.
(8.) This symbol is called “Bese Saka”. In the Akan language "Bese" means cola nuts, and "Saka" means sack. So this Adinkra symbol means bundle of unseparated cola nuts, but it is also known as a sack of cola nuts. This stands for power, abundance and economical welfare. Back in the olden days, a sack of cola nuts was usually shared among chiefs during a chief meeting, and the bigger your sack was, the better economic status you gained. The design of this symbol reflects the image of a true cola nut flower.
(9.) This symbol is called “Dame-Dame” and it stands for intelligence. To be able to play this game, one needs their utmost concentration, or else you might as well just leave the show before sitting down. Dame-Dame was a 10x10 checkerboard game that was played a lot by the elderly men in the village. In the middle you’ll see a square which represents the mind at its highest concentrated state, but it also stands for the squares you see on the dame-board, you can only be positioned in 1 square at a time, such as your concentration. Then you’ll see 4 lines leaving the square reaching a circle which represents pathways. This means, once the mind is concentrated you are able to see all the positive directions available to you (in this game as well as in life). And then finally the circle represents the dame-chip that you use to move around with on the board.
(10.) This symbol is called “Eban” and it means fence. This Adinkra symbol stands for safety and security, much like Adinkra nr.5. Now in Ghana, fencing your house is a super important thing. It keeps unwanted visitors away from coming to your sacred space. So just like “Fihankra” which also symbolizes the same thing, this symbol seems to be having 4 little “Fihankra’s” which is already very safe, and then having an even greater super fence around it, making it double secure.
(11.) This symbol is called “Fawohodie” and it means freedom. It stands for emancipation and independence. This Adinkra symbol is actually associated with an Akan proverb which goes “Fawohodie Ene Obre Na Enam” meaning independence comes with its responsibilities. If you look at this symbol you’ll see something that actually resembles a traditional stool, and if you look closer you’ll notice that there is a double layer designed on the inside. When it comes to this Adinkra symbol, you have to start from the inside, the double layer, which represents an individual without independence, and hence without responsibilities. This individual is taken care of by another person, which is symbolized as the outer chair-looking design. When one wants to become independent, and move from the inner to the outer sphere, then one will feel the weight of the responsibilities, which is symbolized by the inner design.
(12.) This symbol is called “Denkyem” and this literally means crocodile. Now the image you see is rather self-explanatory, this Adinkra symbol has the image of a crocodile and it stands for adaptability. The reason they chose this animal was because back in the olden days, it was quite fascinating to see a creature that lives in water who also happened to be dependent on air. The crocodile is supposedly very adapted to any circumstance.
(13.) This symbol is called “Onyankopon Adom Nti Biribiara Beye Yie” which literally means by the Grace of God, everything will be alright. When we look at this Adinkra symbol, we notice a heart which symbolizes God, who is love. And an inner circle divided in 4, which symbolizes the human being with all his needs. Once we believe that God is love, by his grace, everything that has been placed under His care, under His wings, will be protected forever, thus everything will be alright with God by our side.
(14.) This symbol is called “Akoma Ntoso” which basically means linked hearts and this stands for understanding and agreement. Now when we carefully look at this Adinkra symbol, with a little bit of spatial awareness, you’ll notice 4 separated “halved oval shapes” which are all connected by a center circle. Now when you connect the 2 top halved oval shapes with the center circle, you get a heart, and the same goes for the 2 bottom halved oval shapes… hence the linked hearts. It takes understanding for two hearts to be linked as one. The center circle represents the point of understanding, the point of coming together as one.
(15.) This symbol is called “Boa Me Na Me Mmoa Wo” which means help me and let me help you. Now this symbol stands for cooperation and interdependence. This Adinkra symbol is very beautiful. For the people who’ve had Genetics courses during uni./college years or advanced biology during high school years, will immediately notice the squares and the circles that are used in pedigree charts. In medicine, when creating a genetic chart (pedigree), the square is typically used for males and the circles are used for females. The white square and white circle represent helping each other out on micro level, one on one, directly between individuals. And the black square and black circle you see (right above the white square and below the white circle) represent helping each other out on macro-level, on nation-state level, perhaps even globally so to say. The triangles where the squares and circles are embedded in are pointed towards each other, as in we need one another. And finally the triangles are connected to one another on both sides which represent the exchange of help.
(16.) This symbol is called “Akokonan” which literally means a leg of a hen. Now this Adinkra symbol is supposed to represent the disciplined characteristic as well as the nurturing aspect of parenthood. Hens are known to trample on their chicks without hurting them. Meaning it’s important to create a balance between nurturing children and disciplining them. When you look closely at this symbol, you can actually divide it in half (vertical line), and you’ll notice 2 hen’s legs, with the left side smaller than the right side. The left side which is smaller, with the toes pointing to the right represents the disciplining role of a parent, and the right side, which is the bigger leg with the toes pointing to the left, represents the nurturing and embracing role of the parent. They are both equally necessary in the upbringing of children.
(17.) This symbol is called “Nkyimkyim” and it stands for versatility and dynamics in life. Nkyimkyim means something that is bended, curved, so basically the opposite of straight. And that is what we see in this symbol. Life is not a straight path, it’s curvy, it’s bendy, it’s stormy, it’s likely not to even go as planned… but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Besides, life could get slightly boring if it wasn’t a little rough around the edges right… beautiful symbol.
(18.) This symbol is called “Gye Nyame”. In the Akan language "Gye" means except and "Nyame" means God, and so this basically means except for God. It is pretty safe to say that this Adinkra symbol is by far the most popular one. You can literally find them everywhere. This symbol represents the utmost supremacy of Nyame and it is associated with the following saying “No one has ever lived long enough to see the beginning of creation and no one will ever live long enough to see its very ending except God”. This represents the omnipotence of our Father. This symbol strongly looks like a bar spiraled galaxy. Now you may ask… how did our ancestors base this Adinkra symbol on something that requires a telescope to see, which was not even present back then? This seems to be beyond comprehension. However we should remember that our ancestors had a lot of scientific knowledge that present day science is now catching up to, 100’s (if not 1000's) of years later. So in that regard, let’s keep an open mind.
(19.) This symbol is called “Mmusuyidee” and this means that which drives out bad luck. In our culture black is associated with darkness, misfortune, death… the unpleasant sides of life. And white is associated with the good sides of life, purity, clarity, good fortune etc. When we take a look at this Adinkra symbol, we’ll notice that even though white is in the minority, it is bright enough to drive out the darkness. So this symbol represents good fortune and sanctity.
(20.) This symbol is called “Nsoromma” which literally means children of the heavens and it represents guardianship. This Adinkra symbol obviously looks like a star right… And because stars, moon, planets… can all be seen as creation of the Almighty God, it automatically makes them children of the heavens, who are protected by their Creator.
(21.) This symbol is called “Nea Onnim No Sua A, Ohu” which literally translates as those who do not know, can still get to know through education. So this Adinkra symbol represents knowledge and life long-education. When we take a look at this symbol it looks a bit complex but it’s quite okay. Take a look at the horizontal middle part of this symbol, you’ll notice closed rectangles, which represent ignorance, a boxed mind, tunnel vision mentality. However through education, you open your mind, think for yourself, knowledge is power which can set you free. This is symbolized by the outer part of the symbol (top and bottom horizontal layer) which has open rectangles.
(22.) This symbol is called “Owuo Atwedee” which literally means the ladder of death and it basically represents our mortality. Letting us know that one day, we will all take that path, the transition from life to death individually. The ladder symbolizes the means of transition to death and the afterlife.
(23.) This symbol is called “Hwe Mu Dua”. In the Akan language "Hwe mu" means (to) measure and "Dua" means stick and so this Adinkra symbol means measuring stick. This symbol represents quality control and examination. It pushes us to desire the best quality in all things and not to settle for anything less. When we look closely at this Adinkra symbol, you can see a weighing scale, like the very old fashioned ones, they were usually quite little in size. These ones were used way back to weigh gold and silver.
(24.) This symbol is called “Hye Won Hye” and it literally means that which cannot be burnt. It stands for endurance and imperishability. It lets us know that no matter what you go through in life, having a good dose of endurance and resilience will surely get you through everything that comes your way. When we look at this symbol, in the middle you’ll see a flame, which represents fire, the hardships of life. And on each side of the fire you'll see 2 identical figures which represent your being. Meaning, you will surely be fine and non-broken at the end of the road (at the other side of the bridge) only if you endure the hardships of life and keep fighting your way through it.
(25.) This symbol is called “Mmere Dane” which literally means time changes. This symbol teaches us about the dynamics of life. How one day things can appear in a certain way, and on another day they would switch up again. The design of this Adinkra symbol was based on the shape of an hourglass. When times runs out, you have to turn it for the sand to seep through the hole again. Same thing with life, nothing in it is constant, it is always in dynamic modus.
(26.) This symbol is called “Kintinkantan”. In the Akan language "Kintin" means puffed up and "Kantan" means extravagance. So this Adinkra symbol stands for extreme arrogance and boastfulness. It teaches us about the importance of humility and warns us of cockiness and puffiness. When we look at this Adinkra symbol you’ll see 4 identical circles (2 top and 2 bottom). And in the middle you’ll find another circle, this center circle represents egocentrism and arrogance. Thinking everything and everybody is inferior to you and that the world literally and metaphorically revolves around you.
(27.) This symbol is called “Asase Y3 Duru” which literally means the earth is heavy (it has weight). It is also associated with the following saying “Asase Y3 Duru Se Po” which means the earth is heavier than the sea. This teaches us that even though water is important because it can sustain life, the sea is part of the earth, which can sustain even more life. We need to be aware of our environment. Mother Nature gives us a lot to be thankful for, so let’s return the favor with love, hence the 2 hearts (1 upside down). The bottom heart = Mother Nature and the top heart = people. Inside both hearts you’ll find curled shapes, these shapes is what we use in mathematics to define infinity. So this symbol basically tells us to ‘continuously’ (infinitely) protect our earth in order for it to sustain life.
(28.) This symbol is called “Nyame Biribi Wo Soro”. In the Akan language "Nyame" means God, "Biribi Wo" means something is, and "Soro" means heavens. And so this Adinkra symbol teaches us that there is a God out there in the heavens. This encourages us that we should keep on praying, and that no matter what God will always hear us and listen to us. When we look at this symbol you’ll see 2 white kidney shapes, when you overlap these 2 then you get the sign of infinity, which symbolizes that God will ‘always’ hear you. This is a symbol of hope.
(29.) This symbol is called “Kete Pa” and this literally means good bed. This symbolizes good marriage. When we look carefully at this Adinkra symbol you’ll see something that looks like a woven bedsheet or like old timers woven mattress. One of the simplest symbols out there but yet still very beautiful.
(30.) This symbol is called “Mate Masie” which literally means “I have heard it, and I will hide it” (or safeguard/keep it). This Adinkra symbol stands for understanding, wisdom and knowledge. When we look at this symbol, the top outer circles stand for “I have heard it” and top inner circles stand for “It is safe for I have kept it”, the bottom outer circles stand for “I have seen it” and the bottom inner circles stand for “It is safe for I have kept it”. So basically what I hear or see, I will keep, I will hide and I will safeguard it.
(31.) This Adinkra symbol is called “Mpuannum” and it means 5 knots (of hair) and this stands for loyalty, devotion and faithfulness. Now the 5 circles actually represent the hairstyle of each priestess way back in time. Apparently they tied their hair in 5 knots which is what is shown here.
(32.) This symbol is called “Nea Ope Se Obedi Hene” and this is actually derived from the proverb “Nea Ope Se Obedi Hene Daakyi No, Firi Ase Sua Som Ansa” which basically means, he who wants to be king in the future should first learn how to serve. This Adinkra symbol stands for service and leadership. When we look at this symbol, we'll notice an arrow in the middle, which symbolizes the starting point. The place of commencement is on the inner side, start with yourself. And then you work your way up from there.
(33.) This symbol is called “Nkonsonkonson” and it means chain links which stands for unity. This Adinkra symbol is trying to teach us that together we are much stronger than when we’re alone. When looking at this symbol, we see 2 chain like structures who are actually mirror reflections of themselves. Reminding ourselves that we may not look alike at first sight, but that we really are one people, and there is strength when we unite.
(34.) This symbol is called “Nkyimu” and in the Akan language this literally means divider, so zig-zag, and not straight. This Adinkra symbol stands for skillfulness and precision. When we look at this symbol we see a pattern of crossed divisions. These divisions were actually made in cloth with a broad tooth comb prior to placing the Adinkra stamps on the cloth. And because this craftsmanship required patience and precision, this pattern was chosen to reflect just that.
(35.) This symbol is called “Nsaa” which means something made by hand. In this case “Nsaa” actually represents a certain type of handwoven fabric. The pattern of the hand weft is reflected in this symbol. There is also a proverb that goes with this Adinkra symbol which goes “Nea Onnim Nsaa, Oto N’Ago” and this means, he who does not know the authentic Nsaa will always buy fake ones. So in other words this symbol teaches us about quality in craftsmanship. Do not settle for mediocre.
(36.) This symbol is called “Nyame Dua” and it literally means “God’s tree” (God’s altar). It represents the most sacred place of a house or compound dedicated for rituals. This Adinkra symbolizes God’s protection and presence and it kind of looks like a tree leaf. Way back, our ancestors would choose a tree in front of their house or compound, which had more than 3 branches growing together as one (or in most cases intentionally erected one), cut it down and then carve out a sacred altar from it. It was believed that such a tree was composed of all the water, minerals and herbs necessary for rituals and purification.
(37.) This symbol is called “Nyame Y3 Ohene” meaning God is king. It represents the ultimate supremacy of God Almighty. As we look closer at this Adinkra symbol, we'll notice the Adinkra “Gye Nyame” (nr.18) inside the circle, which also means except for God. The only distinction is the circle around this symbol. (Read Adinkra nr.18 for more information on its structure).
(38.) This symbol is called “Okodee Mmowere” which literally means the eagle’s talons (nails). This Adinkra symbolizes strength, bravery and power. Now the reason why our ancestors chose this bird to symbolize these virtues is because it is well known that the eagle is one of the strongest birds in the sky, and that its strength is concentrated in its talons. Now this symbol actually reflects the image of an eagle. The top vertical line represents the head, then moving downwards the first horizontal line represents its wings, the second horizontal line represents its feet and the third horizontal line in combination with the vertical bottom line represent the feathered/wavered tail of the eagle.
(39.) This symbol is called “Odo Nyira Fie Kwan” and this means love never loses its way back home, which symbolizes the power of love. Now when we look at this Adinkra symbol, we can see something that looks like a Love Bug. Now the reason these insects are called “Love Bugs” is because they have an astonishing mating system in which they mate whiles flying in the air…beautiful isn’t?
(40.) This symbol is called “Osram Ne Nsoromma” which literally means the moon and the stars. The design of this Adinkra symbol is not really farfetched and so this is truly what we see when we take a look at this symbol. This Adinkra is also meant to symbolize harmony, faithfulness and love. With this symbol our ancestors tried to teach us that there is great harmony when man and woman bond together.
(41.) This symbol is called “Pempamsie”. In the Akan language "Pempam" means sew and "Sie" means to preserve. So a literal translation would be "Sew to preserve" but metaphorically it means sew in readiness. This Adinkra symbol is supposed to remind us about the importance of unity, coming together, readiness, steadfastness and hardness. When we look closely at this symbol, we can actually see chain-like structures held together with a link.
(42.) This symbol is called “Woforo Dua Pa A” which actually means when you climb a good tree, you’ll definitely get a push. You see, when you're working for something good, people will surely try and support you along the way. When we look at this Adinkra symbol we see a box-like structure with 2 horizontal bars on the inside. These horizontal bars reflect the “push” that is given when you want to climb higher.
(43.) This symbol is called “Sankofa”. In the Akan language "San" means go back, and "Kofa" means get it/take it. So this Adinkra symbol means go back and get it. This symbol teaches us about the importance of learning from the past. When we look at this symbol we see the infinity sign (the mirrored curls) inside the heart shape. This means infinite learning from the past is nothing but a good thing.
(44.) This symbol is also called “Sankofa” and it therefore also means go back and get it. This Adinkra symbol teaches us about the importance of learning from the past. When we look at this symbol we see a chicken who is looking backwards to get something important, meaning it is okay to look back, to reflect and to learn from the past.
(45.) This symbol is called “Owo Foro Adobe”. In the Akan language "Owo" means snake, "Foro" means climb and "Adobe" means raffia tree/palm. So this Adinkra symbol means the snake climbs the raffia tree. Now the raffia tree is a tree with a lot of thorns and it is therefore a huge undertaking for a snake to climb one. It takes courage, persistence and prudence, which is exactly what this Adinkra symbol is teaching us. When we look at this symbol we see a structure of a raffia tree branch.
(46.) This symbol is called “Wawa Aba”. In the Akan language "Wawa" stands for the wawa tree and "Aba" means seed. So this Adinkra symbol means seed of the Wawa tree. Now the seed of the Wawa tree is known to be very tough and hard and with this our ancestors are trying to teach us about the importance of perseverance, the importance of seeing through hardships. When we look at this symbol, we do see a structure that looks like a seed.
(47.) This symbol is called ”Akoma” and this means the heart. Now this is definitely a symbol you can find in all cultures, it is that universal. This symbol stands for love, patience and tolerance. In the Akan language "Ako" means war and "Ma" means to give/offer. So basically that which goes to war for you, that which fights for you. Every single day the heart beats approximately 60 beats/minute, 3600 beats/hour, 86.000 beats/day, 31.536.000 beats/year... multiply all that by your current age... and you'll get a whole lot of beats! This organ literally fights/beats just for you... simply astonishing!
(48.) This symbol is called “Ananse Ntontan” and this means spider’s web. This Adinkra symbol represents the complexities of life, creativity and wisdom. When we look at this symbol, we do see a spider’s web represented here.
(49.) This symbol is called “Aya” which means fern. Now the fern is known to be a very hardy plant which is capable of growing under very difficult circumstances and in very difficult soil. With this Adinkra symbol we learn about the importance of endurance, the importance of seeing through issues. When we look at the design of this symbol, we see a representation of a tree with all its branches.
(50.) This symbol is called “Bi Nka Bi”. "Bi" in the Akan language means one and "Nka" means bite not, and so this Adinkra symbol means one should not bite the other. With this symbol our ancestors tried to teach us about the importance of harmony and peace, and to warn us of provocation. Now as abstract as this symbol may be, I learnt that the design of this Adinkra symbol was based on 2 fish who are trying to bite each other’s tail.
(51.) This symbol is called “Duafe” and it literally means wooden comb. "Dua" means wood and "Fe" means comb in the Akan language which is exactly what we see when looking at this symbol. Now this stands for all the exterior female qualities such as beauty, but also inner female qualities such as peace and calmness.
(52.) This Adinkra symbol is called “Dwennimmen”. In the Akan language "Dwennim" means ram and "Men" means horns so this basically means Ram’s horns. Now the ram is known to be very strong and resilient when need be, but it can also be very humble when he should be. Thus the double ram’s horns you see in this symbol represented in each other’s mirror reflection. This Adinkra symbol stands for humility and resilience.
(53.) This symbol is called “Nyame Nti” and this means by the grace of God. Now this branch that we see in this Adinkra symbol is supposed to be seen as the tree of life. If it weren’t for trees or nature in general, our very existence would be nonexistent. So we humans get nourished by God’s grace through nature. And this symbol teaches us about the importance of having faith and trust in God.
(54.) This symbol is called “Epa” and this means handcuffs, which is basically what we do see in this symbol. Now this Adinkra is supposed to remind us of the ruthless characteristic of the law, but also of our history when it comes to slavery. So this Adinkra basically stands for justice, law, slavery and captivity.
(55.) This symbol is called “Kwatakye Atiko” which means the backside of Kwatakye’s head. Now Kwatakye was an old Ashanti war captain, who had an interesting hairstyle on which the design of this symbol was based upon. This Adinkra teaches us about the importance of bravery and valor.
(56.) This symbol is called “Me Ware Wo” and this means I shall marry you. This Adinkra symbol represents commitment and perseverance. Now when we look at the design we see 4 circles. The left top and bottom circles represent the commitment of marriage of 2 individuals on a physical level which are connected to each other. And the right top and bottom circles represent the commitment of marriage of 2 individuals on a spiritual/mind/soul level which are also connected with each other.
(57.) This symbol is called “Mframadan” which means wind-house. Now this Adinkra is supposed to represent fortitude and readiness to face the complexities of life. You see back in the olden days, our ancestors believed that after a house was built with mud, it should be reinforced with turf to give it extra strength. So when we look at this symbol, you’ll see the house from a top perspective, with an extra wall surrounding it for extra security to help against any kind of weather conditions.
(58.) This symbol is called “Mpatapo”. In the Akan language "Mpata" means reconciliation and "Po" means knot. So this Adinkra symbol represents the knot of reconciliation and peace. Now when we look at the design we do see a knot-like structure, which is believed to represent the knot of peace traditionally used when reconciliation is desired between any disputing parties. This symbol teaches us about the importance of pacification.
(59.) This symbol is called “Nyame Nnwu Na Mawu” which means God never dies so I shall not die. It is believed that the soul is immortal and a piece of God, therefor if God does not die, then I surely shall not die. When we look at this symbol we see an “X” structure which is universally known as a cancellation symbol.
(60.) This symbol is called “Nyansapo” and this means the knot of wisdom. Now with this Adinkra our ancestors tried to teach us about the importance of attaining wisdom. Wisdom is associated with knowledge which is power. When we look at this symbol, we do see a representation of a knot.
(61.) This symbol is called “Sesa Wo Suban” which means change your attitude. This Adinkra symbol is teaching us about the concept of transformation, the dynamic pattern of life. When we look at the design, we see a star in the center which represents the morning star, a breaking dawn of a new day. Now this star is placed inside a wheel-like structure which represents the moving/dynamic characteristic of life.
(62.) This symbol is called “Tamfo Bebre” which means the enemy will stew in his own juice. This Adinkra stands for jealousy and envy. When looking at this Adinkra symbol we do see something that looks like a cooking pot.
(63.) This symbol is called “Wo Nsa Da Mu A” which means if your hands are in the dish. With this Adinkra our ancestors tried to teach us that people will not eat everything and leave you nothing. So this is a symbol of democracy. When we look at the design we see 2 triangles that represent 2 individuals who share a common denominator, the circle.
Well my dear readers, we have reached the end of this article. The beautiful female illustrations you see were created by the talented fashion illustrator Ms. Sabiene Pieper who worked together with Vlisco for the Delicate Shades campaign, and they are absolutely gorgeous! If you were able to read this from A to Z then I thank you so much for the all the love and sticking around till the very end. If you had a good time hopping around from Adinkra to Adinkra then I’m also glad you had a good time. To test yourself on the Adinkra symbols, do click "here" and let me know how well you did by sharing your results on Facebook and by tagging "Eclectic Kyeiessa" in it (no cheating guys!). Ow and also let me know which Adinkra is your favorite one and why, will be waiting for your responses! Until then, take care of yourselves, be kind to one another and I'll see you in the next one xoxo.
Originating at www.eclectickyeiessa.com
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