Kente Cloth: History, Color Meaning, Facts and More
Kente cloth is a traditional fabric characterized by its colorful pattern and beautiful texture. It has been a staple in African culture for centuries. In fact, it’s one of the most popular African fabrics worn today. Maybe you have seen it on a graduation stole, or perhaps you saw a kente cloth bag on Facebook. It’s a beautiful design with an even more beautiful meaning.
It’s always important to understand the cultural significance behind African fabrics, which is why we will explain the kente cloth’s history and the meanings behind its vibrant colors.
History of kente cloth
Kente cloth comes from the Asante people of the Akan kingdom. This empire ruled over modern-day Ghana during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the Twi language, which was spoken by the Asantes, kente literally means “handwoven cloth.”
Unfortunately, historians do not know the exact origins of kente cloth. But, there is a common story that is still told about how this style came to be. According to Kwasi Asare, a master kente cloth weaver, the story goes like this: two hunters stumbled upon a spider that spun a web in a forest which inspired them to recreate the patterns.
What does kente cloth symbolize?
Aside from its traditional story and rich history, kente cloth symbolizes much more. From its striking gold to bold green, every color on the cloth communicates something different.
- Black: unity with ancestors and spiritual awareness
- Blue: harmony and a pure spirit
- Gold: status and serenity
- Green: renewal
- Red: passion
- Yellow: fertility
Kente cloth facts
What is the origin of kente cloth?
As mentioned earlier, historians do not know how the kente cloth came to be. The most information we have is that this style came from the Asante kingdom in the 18th century. It is typically worn during graduations, festivals, birthdays, independence celebrations, and weddings.
How is kente cloth woven?
Kente cloth is made using a strip-weaving technique. To make one, you need a wood structure called a loom and a heddle, a wire that separates the threads. Depending on how big the cloth will be, there can be thousands of different heddles the threads must go through.
Traditionally, a warp thread will move through one heddle on the first shaft, and the second thread will move through that same heddle but on a different shaft. This pattern continues to go on and on in different heddle groups.
Popular kente cloth designs
Since there is so much variety in how a kente cloth can be woven, there are tons of popular designs. But, typically, more antique patterns are seen as more valuable than newer styles and cost a lot more.
Specifically, the Fatia Fata Nkrumah kente design represents anti-racial discrimination and demonstrates unity. It was created for the first president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to celebrate his marriage.
Kente cloth bag examples
Now that you know the background and how it’s made, it’s time to shop for a kente cloth bag!
To add a pop of culture and style into your daily life, opt for a handmade kente cloth crossbody bag. It’s the perfect statement piece that will capture everyone’s attention, without compromising its practicality. This larger-sized bag (14 inches x 13 inches) is capable of carrying everything you need for work or to run errands.
If you are an African print lover in general, then you’ll love and appreciate this vintage African print bag. Let your bag do all the talking with its artistic mix of colorful and vibrant prints. When you wear this bag, it will tie together any basic outfit and take it from a six to a ten.
If you are looking to share your new knowledge, there’s no better way to do it than with a kid's crossbody bag. The pattern will allow them to hold a piece of history with them in a convenient way. A crossbody bag is perfect for the little ones to carry what they would like without having to carry it the whole time.
The kente cloth comes from the influential people of the Akan kingdom. Not only is it a fashionable African fabric, but it’s also a way to pass down good wishes of harmony, renewal, and more.
A little kente cloth goes a long way in making a statement. From a strap on a wristlet to a piece in a hodgepodge of African prints, you can show off this culturally significant symbol of positivity.