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Adinkra Symbols and Meanings

Adinkra Symbols - Adinkra Meanings

The Adinkra symbols come from West Africa, specifically a region that is modern-day Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The symbols belonged to the Asante (or Ashanti) peoples, who would print them on cloth, as well as pottery and metalwork. The Asante people resisted British colonial rule when it arrived in West Africa. It may be for this reason that much cultural tradition and symbolism survives to this day.
The word ‘adinkra’ means ‘farewell’ or ‘goodbye’ in the Twi language, spoken by the Asante people. For this reason, Adinkra cloth was worn often on special occasions, particularly funerals.
The Adinkra symbols are closely tied to the history, beliefs and traditions of the Asante people. Each symbol represents a small number of simple concepts, meaning that Adinkra cloth would traditionally be printed using bespoke patterns, telling a story about the wearer that could be read by those knowledgeable enough to understand the underlying symbolism.

The Adinkra symbols, and their meanings, have survived to the present day. Cloth displaying Adinkra symbols is now mass-produced in bright colours, using modern techniques and is very popular both in Africa and the wider world. This is not to say that the traditional weaving and printing methods have died out. It is still possible to find Adinkra cloth that has been made by hand, printed using natural inks and traditional techniques.
Today, the University of Ghana uses Adinkra iconography in its official logo and crest. Many other modern institutions in West Africa borrow these symbols for use in branding, due to their prevalence, history and associated meanings.

Sepow Adinkra symbols

Sepow

The Sepow symbol depicts a knife, specifically that of an executioner. It represents authority and justice. It consists of a pointed triangle above a circle.

Okuafo Pa Adinkra symbol

Okuafo Pa

The Okuafo Pa symbol represents diligence, hard work, entrepreneurship. All of these are characteristic of a successful farmer. The symbol depicts farming tools.

Eban Adinkra symbol

Eban

Eban translates to mean ‘fence’, though in the case of this symbol, it represents more the safety and security provided by the home. The home is where the family is, and therefore the symbol also represents love and the security provided by the family.

Owuo Atwedee Adinkra symbol

Owuo Atwedee

Owuo Atwedee translates as ‘the ladder of death.’ It forms part of the proverb which says that, in essence, everyone will one day climb death’s later. The symbol depicts a literal ladder, but represents the mortality of man. It may be invoked to humble the prideful or console the grieving.

Adinkrahene Adinkra symbol

Adinkrahene

Adinkrahene translates to mean ‘Adinkra King’, and this symbol purports to be the inspiration for all others. It consists of three concentric circles, one within the other. The symbol represents charisma, leadership and greatness. In a more abstract sense, it is the idea of an idea.

Nteasee Adinkra symbol

Nteasee

The Nteasee symbol represents cooperation and understanding. It urges the people to be more considerate and compassionate towards one another. Peace and harmony will reign when people overlook their differences and work together.

Mmere Dane Adinkra symbol

Mmere Dane

Mmere Dane translates as ‘time changes.’ It represents the temporariness of any particular state of affairs and the transient nature of luck or fortune. The symbol reflects the transitory nature of all things, and implores that one be humble at all times.

Mako Adinkra symbol

Mako

Mako, which translates as ‘pepper’, forms part of the proverb, ‘all peppers do not ripen at the same time.’ It represents inequality and uneven development, serving as a reminder that one should help the less fortunate, as one’s own fortunes may one day change.

Dame Dame Adinkra symbol

Dame Dame

Dame-Dame translates as ‘chequered’. The symbol represents intelligence, ingenuity and strategy.

Epa Adinkra symbol

Epa

The Epa symbol depicts a set of handcuffs, introduced to West Africa as a result of colonialism and the slave trade. Those within African communities wishing to preserve and enforce the rule of law, however, also adopted them. Therefore, the symbol represents slavery, captivity, but also, conversely, justice and a rejection of slavery.

Mpuannum Adinkra symbol

Mpuannum

Mpuannum translates as ‘five tufts,’ and it refers to the hairstyle traditionally worn by the Asante priestess. The symbol implies a particular kind of religious joy. It also represents loyalty, faith and duty.

Bese Saka Adinkra symbol

Bese Saka

Bese Saka is the symbol of the cola nut. This represents affluence, power, abundance, trade and commerce. Cola nuts were a prized cash crop in West Africa and so they are closely associated with economic success.

UAC Nkanea Adinkra symbol

UAC Nkanea

The UAC Nkanea symbol represents technological advancement. It is a symbol makes record of advances in Asante and Ghanaian society.

Gye Nyame Adinkra symbol

Gye Nyame

Gye Nyame translates as, ‘except God.’ It suggests that, ultimately, one must answer to God and no-one else. The symbol also represents the omnipotence of God. This symbol remains prevalent in modern-day Ghana.

Woforo Dua Pa A Adinkra symbol

Woforo Dua Pa A

Woforo Dua Pa A translates as one half of the proverb, ‘When you climb a good tree, are given a push.’ It means that when offer support to good causes, you will receive support in return. It represents encouragement, support and cooperation.

Osram ne Nsoromma Adinkra symbol

Osram ne Nsoromma

Osram ne Nsoromma translates to ‘the moon and the star’. It depicts a half moon as if it is a bowl that might catch the star above. The symbol represents faithfulness, fidelity, love and harmony.

Mframadan Adinkra symbol

Mframadan

The Mframadan symbol depicts a well-ventilated, or wind-resistant house. Mframadan consists of a square containing straight diagonal and horizontal lines. It represents fortitude and the ability to confront and manage change.

Funtumfunafu Denkyemfunafu Adinkra symbol

Funtumfunafu Denkyemfunafu

The Funtumfunafu Denkyemfunafu symbol depicts two conjoined crocodiles, sharing a stomach. They are said to argue constantly, yet share food together. It represents a common destiny, sharing, unity and diversity.

Nea Onnim Adinkra symbol

Nea Onnim

Nea Onnim represents knowledge and learning. It comes from a proverb that means, ‘he who does not know can know from learning’.

Menso Wo Kenten Adinkra symbol

Menso Wo Kenten

Menso Wo Kenten means ‘I am not carrying your basket.’ The symbol represents industriousness, self-reliance and self-determination. It takes the form of three star shapes, each inside the other.

Aban Adinkra symbol

Aban

The Aban symbol depicts a castle, or fortress. It represents strength, safety and authority.

Nkonsonkonson Adinkra symbol

Nkonsonkonson

The Nkonsonkonson symbol depicts two links in a chain. Nkonsonkonson represents unity, community, and the strength that comes from each.

Nsaa Adinkra symbol

Nsaa

Nsaa is a type of woven fabric. The symbol is representative of a proverb which means, ‘He who does not know authentic Nsaa will buy fakes.’ It symbolizes excellence, quality workmanship and authenticity.

Mpatapo Adinkra symbol

Mpatapo

The Mpatapo symbol depicts a knot with no beginning or end. Mpatapo represents peace, particularly after conflict, as well as forgiveness and reconciliation.

Hwehwemudua Adinkra symbol

Mpatapo

The Mpatapo symbol depicts a knot with no beginning or end. Mpatapo represents peace, particularly after conflict, as well as forgiveness and reconciliation.

Akoko Nan Adinkra symbol

Akoko Nan

The Akoko Nan depicts the leg of a chicken, or hen. The name of the symbol comes from the African proverb, ‘The leg of a hen steps on the child chick but it doesn’t kill the chick.’ It represents the nurturing, but also disciplining, of children.

Kuronti ne Akwamu Adinkra symbol

Kuronti ne Akwamu

The Kuronti ne Akwamu symbol represents the sharing of ideas, taking council and democracy.

Akoben Adinkra symbol

Akoben

The Akoben symbol depicts a war horn. I represents vigilance and wariness.

Nyame Dua Adinkra symbol

Nyame Dua

The Nyame Dua symbol depicts a cross-section of a palm tree, or the top of a tree stump. It represents God’s presence and protection. Nyame Dua is also the name of the place outside a dwelling or in a village where sacred rituals take place.

Abe Dua Adinkra symbol

Abe Dua

The Abe Dua symbol depicts a palm tree. The palm tree represents resourcefulness, wealth, and self-sufficiency. This is due to the sheer number of practical uses one can find for product made from the palm tree’s wood, oil and fruit.

Akoma Ntoaso Adinkra symbol

Akoma Ntoaso

The Akoma Ntoaso symbol represents agreement and understanding.

Dwannini Mmen Adinkra symbol

Dwannini Mmen

The Dwannini Mmen depicts the horns of a ram. It represents humility and strength, as well as the idea that even the strongest must also be humble.

Adwo Adinkra symbol

Adwo

The Adwo symbol represents peace, tranquillity, and quiet.

Nyame Nwu na Mawu Adinkra symbol

Nyame Nwu na Mawu

Nyame Nwu na Mawu translates to ‘God won’t die for me to die.’ The symbol, in the shape of a cross, represents the presence of God and the immorality of the soul. The doesn’t die because, after death, the soul returns to God. God doesn’t die and, therefore, neither does the soul.

Duafe Adinkra symbol

Duafe

The Duafe symbol depicts a wooden comb. It is a symbol of femininity, as well as love and care. It also represents good hygiene and being well groomed.

Tamfo Bebre Adinkra symbol

Tamfo Bebre

The Tamfo Bebre symbol represents jealousy, evil, or ill will. It translates to mean either, ‘the enemy will suffer’ or ‘the enemy will stew in his own juice.’ The symbol is sometimes said to depict a bowl that will not submerge in water, due to increased pressure resulting in an increased in resistance. For this reason, the symbol may also represent futility.

Nsoromma Adinkra symbol

Nsoromma

The Nsoromma is a symbol of guardianship. It represents love, bonding and faithfulness, particularly in marriage. ‘Nsoromma’ translates literally to mean ‘star.’ The symbol serves as a constant reminder that God watches over all people.

Akoma Adinkra symbol

Akoma

The Akoma represents patience and tolerance. It is similar to the classic heart ideograph. For this reason, it can also be said to represent understanding, agreement and unity.

Nkyinkyim Adinkra symbol

Nkyinkyim

Nkyinkyim translates to mean ‘twisted,’ and relates to the proverb that says ‘life’s journey is twisted.’ The symbol itself twists and turns to reflect this wisdom. Life requires versatility and resilience, and these qualities are represented by this symbol.

Denkyem Adinkra symbol

Denkyem

The Denkyem symbol depicts a crocodile and signifies the proverb, ‘the crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air’. The crocodile’s cleverness and ability to adapt are seen as desirable qualities.

Odo Nyera Fie Kwan Adinkra symbol

Odo Nyera Fie Kwan

The Odo Nyera Fie Kwan symbol represents the proverb, ‘those led by love will never lose their way,’ sometimes written as ‘love never loses its way home’. This symbol is usually engraved on wedding bands and other events related to the union of two people. The Akan people consider it a powerful mantra to represent a union.

Adinkra Font - African Font

Adinkra font

Adinkra font can be considered a West African font, it took inspiration from the Symbolism in use in the Ashanti people, a decorative collection of symbols which represent concept or aphorism, they are used in fabrics and pottery and in architecture decorations.
This is a display font with an African style, the geometry is straight but highly decorative and is perfect combined with Adinkra symbols.
The Adinkra Font comes together with a family of 40 symbols from Adinkra symbolism.

Download All Adinkra Symbols

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