Originating in Ghana, Adinkra symbols are now related, in general, to the Ashanti people. There are hundreds of these signs, which were originally printed on the cloth that was used in sacred ceremonies and rituals, funerals in particular. “Adinkra” means “goodbye.”

The patterns are created using a block printing method. The symbols are cut into a calabash gourd, and then stamped onto the cloth in ink or paint.

The language of Adinkra is rich and varied, embracing philosophical concepts and sociological ideas as well as straightforward words. The symbols take their influence from plants, animals, the landscape, and the natural world, as well as manmade objects. There is a vast Adinkra vocabulary, with complex meanings attached to what might appear, at first glance, to be simple little doodles.

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