There is nothing in this life that is done without purpose. Everything stands from something, and everything comes from something that came before it. And, to be frank, sometimes words are just not enough. Sometimes dance is used to convey a message, sometimes music, body language, or in other cases symbols.

Adinkra symbols greet you at the door when you make it to Ghana. They are everywhere, on clothing, billboards, walls of buildings, in restaurants, and even candy wrappers!

“Adinkra” can be defined as: being separated, taking leave, saying farewell. The word originates from the language of the Ashanti people, Akan/Twi.  Because of this when fabric printed with adinkra symbols are worn by community spiritual leaders and royalty it is usually done so as a funeral garment, mourning someone’s death. That has since changed and you can see adinkra symbols casually plastered almost anywhere.

I was on a quest to find my symbol, the adinkra symbol that I believed best fit e, and it was so hard. The more time I am spending in Ghana the more I am learning. Not just about the Ghanaian culture but about myself. There are about 400 adinkra symbols that are officially recognized in Ghana, so you could see how it is hard to narrow it down to one symbol. Here is an archive.

I did however, find a symbol that represented my strength as a woman and it has an identical appearance to that of a fro pic. It embodied characteristics of not just what is inside a woman, but the manifestation of those things in her physical appearance.

The process of creating the ink to print the Adrinkra symbols is a tedious one. The substance used in the stamping process is prepared by boiling the bark of Badie (a tree) together with iron slag. This creates a redish brown color. Originally the printing was done on a cotton piece lying on the ground. Today, that method has evolved and raised platforms with sack coverings are now used as the printing table. The designs, are created by dipping wooden symbols into the ink and gently rocking back and for and carefully lifting to create the perfect imprint.

It seems only right that such time is taken to prepare these symbols since they are representation of values, morals, and traits that have been an important part of Ghanaian culture for centuries.

~Kristen Phantazia

“Perception is reality, and reality is in my world there is no black and white, only shades of K…”

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