Hand-Woven Kente Cushion Covers and Placemats

Some of our cushion covers and placemats are made using hand-woven Kente Cloth.  Kente cloth is woven using silk and cotton fabrics. It is native is the Akan ethno-linguistic group in the Ashanti region of Ghana.  The word “kente” originates from the word “kenten” which means a basket in the Akan language. The similarity in the weaving to that of a basket weave is what gave it this name.  Akans refer to Kente as “nwentoma” which means woven cloth.

Kente is traditionally a royal cloth worn by the Akan on special occasions. This fabric is still very much respected by the Akans. There are assertions that Kente was developed as a weaving style around 17th Century by the Ashanti people. However, the tradition of Kente weaving can be traced back several centuries earlier.  According to legend, Kente was first made by two Akan friends who went hunting in the forest and came across a spider making its web.  The men observed the spider for a number of days and then returned home to replication what they had seen the spider doing using threads.

The cloth is woven on a traditional handloom. The weavers use their hands and feet to operate the loom. The colours used for Kente weaving have different symbolic meaning. Black symbolizes maturity and spiritual energy, blue symbolizes peace, harmony and love, green symbolizes harvesting, growth and spiritual renewal. Grey signifies healing and cleansing.

A variety of Kente patterns have been invented, each of which has a certain concept or concepts traditionally associated with it. Concepts such as creativity and knowledge are associated with some of the patterns.  For example we also have names such as Adwinasa, Akyempem and Fathia Fata Nkrumah for the Kente designs.

The name “Adwinasa” means all designs are exhausted. According to historians, the designer of the fabric tried to weave a unique cloth to please the King of the Ashanti Kingdom, at the time.  In search for uniqueness he used all the designs known to Asante weavers.  Since this time the cloth has been viewed as one of the most high quality and expensive fabrics. It symbolizes excellence, wealth and royalty.

“Akyempem” means a thousand shields. This is in reference to the protective shields used by the highly skilled militia who defended the Asante Kingdom against external forces. The cloth symbolises military prowess, unity and courage.

“Fathia Fata Nkrumah” is the name given to the fabric designed in honour of the marriage of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President, and Fathia Halim Ritzk. Fathia was a beautiful woman from Egypt who represented all that was majestic, elegant and graceful. The Ghanaian public thought it was such a wonderful match that they called the fabric designed in their honour Fathia Fata Nkrumah which means “Fathia is a fitting wife for Nkrumah. The marriage was also lauded for its representation of Pan-African ideals.

By Ozoza Lifestyle

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