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Adinkra Symbols

Adinkra Symbols of West Africa

Adinkra are small symbols from West Africa, originally created by the Gyaman people, in what is now the present day country of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire in western Africa. The term Adinkra came from the legendary king of the Gyaman, Nani kofi Adinkra, who wore clothes with colorful patterns made up of symbols with special meanings.

These symbols are everywhere in a village: on stools, pottery, paintings and especially on cloth.

The symbols stand for proverbs that remind everyone of responsibility, harmony with nature and how to live a good life.

The King Symbol stands for greatness and royalty.

 “The King sees all” symbolizes watchfulness, protectiveness and power.

“I have heard it and kept it” symbolizes watchfulness, protectiveness and power.

“My star will shine one day” stands for hope, trust and expectation.

Good Luck: “Sanctify like a cat that hates filth” means good fortune.

“Have Courage” stands for valor, courage and determination.

“Spider Web” or Ananse Ntotan stands for creativity and wisdom of Ananse the spider.

“My star will shine one day” stands for hope, trust and expectation.

This symbol means peace, harmony and serenity.

“Aim high or think ahead” symbolizes forethought, planning ahead, setting goals.

“You’ve changed!” is a greeting that means surprise, wonder and admiration.

“The good ear easily understands an issue”
stands for understanding and tolerance.

Snake climbing a raffia tree: Because of its thorns, the raffia tree is a dangerous challenge for the snake. It symbolizes doing something impossible and being persistent, (not giving up.)

“Enjoy life, for one has a short stay in this world” symbolizes joy and happiness.

Ram’s Horn stands for strength and Humility. “The strength of a ram lies in its horn.”

“Have faith” stands for belief, faith and assurance, (knowing what’s right.)

The Sankofa stands for learning from the past to build the future or fixing mistakes: “Go back and fetch it”, “You should try to undo past mistakes.”

Gye Nyame means except God: “The great panorama of creation dates back to time immemoria; no one lives who saw its beginning and no one will live to see its end, except God.”