Adinkra symbols originated in West Africa, in the kingdom of Gyaman, which comprised today’s Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
Legend has it…
Adinkra symbols were named after the king of Gyaman Kwodo Adingra. Asante artists were able to learn the famous Gyaman designs from Appau, the son of King Kwodo Adingra after the fall of Gyaman to Asante.
The marks on traditional cloth of the Asante people are known as Adinkra symbols. These were created by people of Akan ethnicity. The ethnic people which belong to the Gulf of Guinea are known as Akan people. These images usually represent concepts or definitions, and are usually linked to proverbs. There are evocative messages in them that carry traditional wisdom. The beliefs, history, and philosophy of the Asante people is also represented by them.
They also depict historical events, human and animal behavior, attitude of humans, plant life forms, and shapes of objects. These are used in pottery, fabrics, advertising, and logos. They have been incorporated in architecture as well. They also appear on traditional Akan gold weights.
It signifies the self-sufficiency of a palm tree. It is a used as a sign for wealth, toughness, and vitality.
This is the chief Adinkra symbol. It forms the basis of Adinkra printings. It signifies ‘greatness’ and ‘royalty’. The literal meaning of the word ‘Adinkrahene’ is Adinkra king.
This was the stamp of Adinkra kings.
This is a watery shrub. It is used to signify chastity, along with good fortune, sanctity, and cleanliness.
This symbol signifies peace or calmness.
This signifies a sense of obligation. It can also show alertness and faith.
It represents a ‘war-horn‘. It shows vigilance and wariness. It is a call to be prepared for battle.
It means royal swords or swords of war. They signify valor and bravery. This can also be a representation of state authority.
This is a representation of a hen’s feet. It shows the nurturing and protective nature of a parent.
This means ‘the heart’. It signifies endurance and love.
This means linked hearts. It is used to signify an understanding or an agreement.
Its literal meaning is a spider’s web. It is used to signify creativity and wisdom, along with the complexities of life.
This means seriousness. It symbolizes diligence and perseverance.
Asase Ye Duru
This symbol means that the Earth has weight. It signifies the divinity of the Earth in sustaining life.
This literally means the fern. It signifies endurance and resourcefulness.
This is ‘a sack of cola nuts’. It signifies power and abundance, along with unity.
Boa Me Na Me Mmoa Wo
This means ‘help me, help you’. It symbolizes interdependence and cooperation among humans.
This is a name of a board game. It represents intelligence and ingenuity.
This is a ‘crocodile’. It represents adaptability.
This is a drum. It represents admiration or praise for someone.
It represents a double drum. It signifies strength and unity.
This is a wooden comb. It represents everlasting love and feminine virtues.
This represents the horn of a sheep or ram. It signifies the presence of humility, along with strength.
It signifies a fence. It is used to show safety and security.
This a representation of handcuffs. It signifies law and equality. It can also represent slavery.
Ese Ne Tekrema
Its literal meaning is teeth and tongue. It is a representation of friendship.
This symbol is a representation of gentleness and tenderness.
It means freedom. The symbol represents independence and liberty.
This symbol means a house or a compound. It signifies safety.
This is the name of a yellow flower plant. It symbolizes envy and jealousy.
This shows Siamese crocodile twins that are joined at the stomach. It represents unity in diversity.
This symbol means ‘except God‘. It signifies the supremacy of God, and His omnipotence and immortality.
This is a measuring stick. It shows excellence and superior quality.
It means ‘that which cannot be burnt’. It is a representation of endurance and toughness.
This means ‘good bed’. It shows love and faithfulness in marriage.
It means puffed-up extravagance. It signifies arrogance.
It means hair of a war hero, Kwatakye. It represents valor and leadership.
This means to keep what one hears. It represents wisdom and knowledge.
Me Ware Wo
This means ‘I shall marry you’. It signifies commitment.
This sign means a house that is resistant to harsh winds. It shows one’s readiness to face difficulties in life.
This symbol means time changes. It signifies the dynamism of life.
It means ‘that which removes bad luck’. It is a symbol of good luck and fortune.
This means a knot of reconciliation. It signifies reconciliation and pacification.
This is a representation of five tufts. It symbolizes priestly office and skillfulness.
Nea Onnim No Sua A, Ohu
This symbol means ‘he who does not know, can know from learning’. It is a representation of the quest for knowledge and lifelong education.
Nea Ope Se Obedi Hene
‘He who wants to be a king’, is what the meaning of this symbol is. It signifies leadership and service.
Bi Nka Bi
This symbol means ‘bite not one another’. It serves as a caution against strife and provocation.
This symbol means chain links. It signifies unity and human relations.
These are the divisions made on the Adinkra cloth before printing. They are a representation of skillfulness and precision.
This means twisting. It is a symbol for dynamism and versatility.
This is a type of a handwoven cloth. It represents authenticity.
It means ‘star’ or ‘child of heaven’. It symbolizes guardianship and faith in God.
Nyame Biribi Wo Soro
This sign signifies that the God is in heaven. It symbolizes hope.
This means ‘altar of God’. The symbol signifies the presence of God and His protection.
Nyame Nnwu Na Mawu
This means that God never dies, therefore, I shall not die. It signifies life after death and immortality of man’s spirit.
This means that God is king. It is a symbol of the supremacy of God.
It means ‘by grace of God’. It symbolizes faith in God.
This is a wisdom knot. It signifies wisdom and patience.
Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan
This means that love never loses its way home. It symbolizes the power of love and faithfulness.
This represents the talons of an eagle. It signifies strength, bravery, power, and unity.
Onyankopon Adom Nti Biribiara Beye Yie
This means ‘that by God’s grace all will be well’. It signifies hope and providence.
Osram Ne Nsoromma
This is a representation of the moon and a star. It symbolizes harmony and fondness.
This means the ladder of death. It symbolizes death and the mortal nature of humans.
It means readiness. It signifies preparedness and strength in unity.
This means to learn from the past. It symbolizes wisdom and learning from past experiences.
This is an alternate symbol of Sankofa.
This means that the enemy will face justice. It signifies jealousy.
It means the seed of the wawa tree. It symbolizes skillfulness and perseverance.
Woforo Dua Pa A
This means ‘when you climb a good tree’. It signifies support, cooperation, and encouragement.
Wo Nsa Da Mu A
This means ‘if you have your hand in the dish’. It is a symbol of democracy and pluralism.
In ‘Twi‘, an Akan language, Adinkra means ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell’. Hence, people of the Akan ethnic group wear Adinkra-printed clothes at a funeral if the deceased were a friend or family.