The Ghana Kente Evolution
eBook - ePub

The Ghana Kente Evolution

Richard Antwi-Boasiako

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eBook - ePub

The Ghana Kente Evolution

Richard Antwi-Boasiako

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The evolution of the Ghana Bonwire Kente cloth. The meanings of the cloth names, the design names, and the colors used in Kente cloth weaving. The evolution of the Kente cloth from being a Royal cloth to being a cloth for all and for all occasions. The traditional and contemporary views on the Ghana Bonwire Kente cloth.

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Informazioni

Anno
2020
ISBN
9780578779751
Edizione
1
Argomento
Arte
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Chapter 1

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Kente Cloth History

The origin of the name Kente is contested by two main tribes in Ghana namely the Asantes from Ashanti region in Ghana and the Ewes from the Volta region in Ghana. The Asantes claim Kente is derived from the Akan word “Kenteng” (which means basket) because the weaving and the final product looks like a basket. Another name the Asantes used for Kente is Kenteng Ntoma (meaning basket cloth). The Ewes claim Kente is from the Ewe word “Kete” which had been corrupted into Kente. In the Ewe language "ke" means to open and "te" means to tighten. Both tribes have incredibly beautiful Kente cloth. There are differences between Asante and Ewe Kente cloth. The Asante Kente has both sides of the cloth having the main design and looking identical. It is therefore difficult to differentiate the two sides. The Ewe Kente however has only one side showing the main design. This book is not meant to resolve the question of the origin of Kente but rather give you an insight into the Asante Bonwire Kente.
Asante history is mainly oral tradition and legend has it that two hunters Opoku Kurago and Kwakye Ameyaw from Asante Bonwire went hunting and observed a spider spinning a web. They studied this art of weaving by the spider which they mimicked in the weaving of Kente. The place where the spider was seen is now a historic site near Bonwire called Ayewakeseho. Kente weaving started around 1679 in Asante Bonwire. The first Kente cloth was black and white with thread from the raffia tree (Edowa). It was a bit uncomfortable on the skin, so the weavers decided to experiment with other materials. They found out that a local tree called Onyina (false-kapok tree) had pods full of a silky cotton-like substance that surrounds the seed. This was used to create the threads for the Kente cloth. With the expansion of the Asante kingdom through wars, places where actual cotton grew became part of the Asante empire and cotton became the preferred raw material for the threads.
A picture containing floor, indoor, colorful

Description automatically generated
Kente Loom (Nsadua)
The evolution of Kente cloth can be grouped into three main phases. The first phase had quite a simple weaving system and the output was called Ayaase Nwin-Ntoma (waist woven cloth). With this system the weaver tied the threads around the two big toes of both legs and then tied it around the waist to form a triangular shape. Raffia fiber known locally as edowa was the main yarn. This was an important invention at that time, but raffia fibers were extremely uncomfortable on the skin.
The second phase also using the Raffia fibers produced what was called Asaase-Nwin-Ntoma (ground woven cloth). With this system, which was a big improvement of the first one, the weaver constructed three pegs on the ground in a triangular shape and tied the threads around them. This made the weaving easier and faster than the ones around the waist.
The third phase which is still in use produced what is called Nsaduaso-Nwin-Ntoma (loom woven cloth). This is the system of weaving the cloth in a loom. This system has seen extraordinarily little change. It is an amazingly simple but effective way of creating the Kente strips which are later joined to form the larger piece. The first cloth from the loom was called Gagamuga.
In the beginning, Kente cloth was woven only in black and white. When the European traders came to Ghana (then Gold Coast), Oyoko women traders were introduced to different fabric colors by these European traders and this revolutionized Kente weaving. These Oyoko women traders returned to Bonwire with colored head scarfs they bought from the Europeans. The black and white cloth evolved into the rich colorful cloth we have today. The introduction of color is credited to Nana Otaa Kraban the brother-in-law of Opoku Kurago and Kwakye Ameyaw. He was able to create different colors from the bark of trees. The bark of the tree was boiled with the white threads to turn them into rich colorful threads used in Kente weaving. The primary Kente colors were yellow, black, red, and green. The early Kente cloths after Nana Otaa Kraban’s invention were colorful but had no designs until Nana Osei Kuffour came up with a way to weave geometric designs which is now part of every beautiful Kente.
Kente is mainly made from silk, rayon, and cotton. Silk is a slippery material and difficult to wear. Most Kente weavers prefer rayon and cotton. Each geometric design and color have a specific meaning. The people from Bonwire taught other people in the areas they migrated how to weave Kente. The weaving of Kente therefore became widespread throughout Ghana especially the towns around Bonwire. However only few master weavers in Bonwire have the expertise to weave certain complex designs such as Asasia and Nkontompo Kente.
Another local name for the Kente Cloth is nwin-ntoma (meaning woven cloth). Every Kente starts as a long strip (about 4 inches wide and 6 feet long). These strips are later joined by hand or machine to create a larger piece. The men cloth normally uses 28 of these strips and the women need about 24 strips. Both the colors and the designs have special significance and meaning to the Asante people.
There are three main types of weaving Kente, namely Single, Double and Triple weave. A single weave Kente has no designs in it. It takes the least amount of time and is the cheapest. The local name is Ahwrepan. A double weave Kente has some designs in each block. This is the most popular as it is affordable to most people. The local name is Topreko. A triple weave Kente is the most time-consuming type. Each block is completely made up of designs. The local name is Topreno. Another name for a triple weave is Edwin Si Edwin So meaning design after design. It is as expected, the most expensive. A triple weave Kente cloth used to be called Wabo bra meaning you have made it in life.
There are the traditional Kente designs and the contemporary designs. The Kente weaver sits in a Kente loom and uses both hands and feet to control the weaving. The intended design for the cloth determines the colors of thread and symbols used. The repeated design normally determines the name of the cloth. Different cloths may have some designs that are the same but the patterns in which the designs are used eventually determines the name of the cloth. The weaver usually names the Kente cloth. Recently though, some Kente cloths have been renamed to commemorate an occasion or when a prominent person uses it. Names like Obama Kente and Fathia Fata Nkrumah are rebranding for existing Kente cloths.
All stools (Chieftaincy) in the Asante Kingdom are created by the Kings of Asante. There are several stools created in connection with Kente weaving. Stools in connection with Kente are placed under the Gyaase division of the Asante Kings court. There are currently Kentehene (Kente Chief), Yokomaahene (Chief of the color Kente), Awinfohene (Kente Design Chief), and Fufutomahene (White dominated Kente Chief).
Traditionally, custom demands that all the Asantehene’s Kente be made only at Bonwire through the Kente Chiefs. The designed Asantehene Kente cloths were not permitted to be woven for any other person even if one could afford it. With time this tradition is g...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Preface
  4. Chapter 1
  5. Kente Cloth History
  6. Chapter 2
  7. Kente Cloth Loom
  8. Chapter 3
  9. Kente Cloth Colors
  10. Chapter 4
  11. Kente Cloth Patterns
  12. Chapter 5
  13. Kente Cloth Names - Traditional
  14. Chapter 6
  15. Kente Cloth Names - Contemporary
  16. Chapter 7
  17. Kente Cloth – Adinkra Symbols
  18. Chapter 8
  19. Kente Cloth - Other Uses
  20. Chapter 9
  21. Kente Cloth and Foreigners
  22. Chapter 10
  23. Kente Cloth Weaving – Future
Stili delle citazioni per The Ghana Kente Evolution

APA 6 Citation

Antwi-Boasiako, R. (2020). The Ghana Kente Evolution (1st ed.). Richard Antw-Boasiako. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/2918224/the-ghana-kente-evolution-pdf (Original work published 2020)

Chicago Citation

Antwi-Boasiako, Richard. (2020) 2020. The Ghana Kente Evolution. 1st ed. Richard Antw-Boasiako. https://www.perlego.com/book/2918224/the-ghana-kente-evolution-pdf.

Harvard Citation

Antwi-Boasiako, R. (2020) The Ghana Kente Evolution. 1st edn. Richard Antw-Boasiako. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/2918224/the-ghana-kente-evolution-pdf (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Antwi-Boasiako, Richard. The Ghana Kente Evolution. 1st ed. Richard Antw-Boasiako, 2020. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.