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Not Simply a Cloth

Kente is an Asante traditional cloth hand-woven on a wooden loom in strips, approximately four and a half inches wide by one hundred and forty-four inches long. A typical man's cloth is approximately eight feet by twelve feet when the strips are sewn together. Cloths usually come in two or more color combinations, woven with geometric and pictogram designs and are worn on special occasions.

The word kente is derived from kenten (a woven basket), which was woven with the same interlocking technique but using raffia fibers instead of the fine yarn used in kente.

Kente is not simply a cloth. Culturally, it visually depicts the historical, political, social and aesthetic tenets of Asante society.

Examples of traditional patterns include:
  • Adwinasa: Literally means "the best design". Symbolizes royalty, elegance, creative ingenuity, excellence, wealth and perfection.
  • Sika futoro: Literally means "gold dust". Symbolizes wealth, royalty, elegance, spiritual purity and honourable achievement.
  • Emaa da: Literally means "first of its kind". Symbolizes creative ingenuity, innovation, uniqueness, perfection and exceptional achievement.
  • Fathia fata Nkrumah: Literally means: "it is befitting that to have Fathia as Nkrumah's wife". Kwame Nkrumah's choice of an Egyptian wife instead of a Ghanian outraged the Ghanaian public. Disregarding public opinion, he married Fathia Halen Ratzk in December 1957. A weaver designed a pattern to commemorate this historic event.
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Huggy Bean and the Origin of the Magic Kente Cloth, Linda Cousins. Gumbs & Thomas Publishers, 1991.
Kente Colors, Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, John Ward, and Debbi Chocolate. Walker & Co., 1996.
Buy it in library binding: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
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Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity, Doran H. Ross and Raymond Aaron Silverman. Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1998.
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Buy it in paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Search for 'kente' on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
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