A-E of Adinkra Symbols

Adinkra Cloth from afroetic.com

African Symbols: Adinkra

The Adinkra symbols were originally designed by “Asante” Craftsment of Ghana, West Africa.

The symbols embody non-verbal communicative and aesthetic values, as well as the way of life of the people who designed them.

The symbols are usually printed on cotton fabric to produce “Adinkra cloths,” which may be worn on such celebrative occasions as child naming, community durbars and funerary rituals.

Each of the symbols has its Asante name and an accompanying literal English translation.


ADINKRAHENE – “chief of adinkra symbols” greatness, charisma, leadership
This symbol is said to have played an inspiring role in the designing of other symbols. it signifies the importance of playing a leadership role.

AKOBEN – “war horn” vigilance, wariness
Akoben is a horn used to sound a battle cry. It symbolizes the call to arms; a willingness to take action.

AKOFENA –  “sword of war” courage, valor
The crossed swords were a popular motif in the heraldic shields of many former Akan states. In addition to recognizing courage and valor, the swords can represent legitimate state authority.

AKOKONAN – “the leg of a hen” mercy, nurturing
The full name of this symbol translates to “The hen treads on her chicks, but she does not kill them.” This represents the ideal nature of parents, being both protective and corrective. An exhortation to nurture children, but a warning not to pamper them.

AKOMA – “the heart” patience & tolerance
According to Agbo, when a person is said to “have a heart in his stomach,” that person is very tolerant. Akoma symbolizes the heart and asks for patience and endurance. “Nya-akoma”, or “take heart.”

AKOMA NTOSO –  “linked hearts” understanding, agreement

ANANSE NTONTAN –  “spider’s web” wisdom, creativity

ASASE YE DURU –  “the Earth has weight” divinity of Mother Earth

 AYA – “fern” endurance, resourcefulness
Aya symbolizes the fern. It also means “I am not afraid of you.” A symbol of defiance.

BESE SAKA – “sack of cola nuts” affluence, abundance, unity

BI NKA BI – “no one should bite the other” peace, harmony

BOA ME NA ME MMOA WO -“help me and let me help you” cooperation, interdependence

DAME-DAME –  name of a board game intelligence, ingenuity

DENKYEM –  “crocodile” adaptability
The crocodile lives in the water, yet breathes the air, demonstrating an ability to adapt to circumstances.

DUAFE –  “wooden comb” beauty, hygiene, feminine qualities

DWENNIMMEN -“ram’s horns” humility and strength
The ram will fight fiercely against an adversary, but it also submits humbly to slaughter, emphasizing that even the strong need to be humble.

EBAN – “fence” love, safety, security

EPA – “handcuffs” law, justice, slavery
You are the slave of him whose handcuffs you wear.

ESE NE TEKREMA –  “the teeth and the tongue” friendship, interdependence
The teeth and the tongue play interdependent roles in the mouth. They may come into conflict, but they need to work together.


Next: FGHK


See also: http://afroetic.com/adinkra-symbols/

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3 thoughts on “A-E of Adinkra Symbols

  1. At Dream State October 9, 2015 at 10:30 am Reply

    Great series, 7M. Adinkra, nsibidi, and anaforuana or abakua. I am sure you have a proper intro lined up. 😉

  2. […] See ABDE […]

  3. Kra Tri – 3 | The Seven Minds October 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm Reply

    […] we can summarise that unity in parts by an adkinkra symbol stamped on linguists’ cloths. Gye Nyame means “unless God (without God there is […]

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