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Kente

March 13, 2019
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Kente, known as nwentom in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips made and native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana. Kente is made in Akan lands such as the Ashanti Kingdom, including the towns of Bonwire, Adanwomase, Sakora Wonoo, and Ntonso in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region. This fabric is worn by almost every Ghanaian tribe. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in the Asante dialect of Akan. Akans refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. It is an Akan royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem by Akans.

Characteristics

Kente cloth varies in complexity. Ahwepan refers to a simple design of warp stripes, created using plain weave and a single pair of heddles. In contrast, adweneasa, which translates to “my skill is exhausted”, is a highly decorated type of kente with weft-based patterns woven into every available block of plain weave. Because of the intricate patterns, adweneasa cloth requires three heddles to weave.

The Akan people choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise (warp) threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants. The cloth symbolizes high in value.

Origins

West Africa has had a cloth weaving culture for centuries via the stripweave method, but Akan history tells of the cloth being created independent of outsider influence. Kente cloth has its origin from the Akan-Ashanti kingdoms in Ghana. The origin of kente is in the Akan empire of Bonoman. Most Akans migrated out of the area that was Bonoman to create various states.[3] The Ewe people of Ghana claim the weaving of Kente originates with them, although they are not claiming they invented the art of weaving. They suggest that the name is derived from Kete which relates to the two alternating rhythmic actions (ke and te, meaning open and press in the Ewe language) associated with the weaving of the loom. But the main creators are the Bonwire people of Asanteman in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

Symbolic meanings of the colors

  • black: maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue: peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green: vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • gold: royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
  • grey: healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
  • maroon: the color of mother earth; associated with healing
  • pink: assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple: assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • red: political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
  • silver: serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
  • white: purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
  • yellow: preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, beauty

Traditions

A variety of kente patterns have been invented, each traditionally associated with a certain concept or set of concepts. For example, the Obaakofoo Mmu Man pattern symbolizes democratic rule; Emaa Da, novel creativity and knowledge from experience; and Sika Fre Mogya, responsibility to share monetary success with one’s relations.

Legend has it that kente was first made by two Akan friends who went hunting in an Asanteman forest and found a spider making its web.[7] The friends stood and watched the spider for two days then returned home and implemented what they had seen.

Modern use of Kente

Kente academic stoles are often used by African Americans as a symbol of ethnic pride. This practice is also very popular with historically black Greek letter fraternities and sororities. African American students hold special ceremonies called “Donning of the Kente” where the stoles are presented to the graduates.

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Kente: It is composed of many strips of narrow cloth. The strips are in hand-woven in several parts of Ghana, including Adanwomase. They are together along the selvedges to form a large,square or rectangular cloth that is traditionally worn wrapped around the body. This hand woven cloth often features colorful geometric motifs with specific meanings. […]
March 6, 2018 Posted by:
Asante Kente for Sale

How to Weave Kente

March 6, 2018
Posted by View: 773

Warping is the process whereby many long yarns are put together to form the yarn that run lengthwise in a woven fabric. This is done on a warping mill or warping board. But the most frequent and traditionally used one is the warping mill. The next process will be to build up the warp after securing the figures for the number of warp ends and total number of hanks needed for the warp. According to SOURCES, initially primitive weavers drove pegs into the ground and moved with their warp yarns to and from these pegs till they obtained the total length and number of ends required.

The procedures for general kente weaving are based on the following; designing, yarn preparation.

Preparation of the yarn for warping

Yarns for kente weaving are warping, raddling, beaming, heddling, reeding, tie-up, and weaving. purchased on hanks and these are wound onto ‘‘duaduwa’’ literally known as bobbins to the required yarn length by the help of the ‘‘ɛntene nnua’’ also known as warping mill. Warping of Yarns

Warping is the process whereby many long yarns are put together to form the yarn that run lengthwise in a woven fabric. This is done on a warping mill or warping board. But the most frequent and traditionally used one is the warping mill. The next process will be to build up the warp after securing the figures for the number of warp ends and total number of hanks needed for the warp. According to SOURCES, initially primitive weavers drove pegs into the ground and moved with their warp yarns to and from these pegs till they obtained the total length and number of ends required.

Presently, the traditional weavers of Adanwomase still practice this system of warping which has been identified as one of the most difficult and cumbersome task. To avoid this hectic task, different methods were introduced. These new methods involve the use of the warping board, warping frame, and the warping mill which assist in three different ways. They assist to align the warp yarn in parallel formation and support them
with the characteristics

crosses that every warp needs to avoid the problems of entanglement in the warp during weaving. For longer warps the warping mill will be very necessary. When warping, the warp yarns are guided by one of the weaver’s hand while the other hand turns the warping mill in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions with the weaver remaining stationary.

Raddling
With the crosses still maintained, the warp threads are spread into the dents of the raddle according to the width desired. The raddle helps the weaver to know and obtain an approximate width of the warp to be woven. The top of the raddle, unlike the reed is removable and when the warp ends are placed in the dents, the top is capped on the teeth to prevent the threads from falling off.

In traditional looms at Adanwomase, after raddling there is a heddling through the ‘‘asanan’’ and later through the ‘‘asatia’’ before reeding; the ends of the warp yarn are then secured with the ‘‘ayaasedua.’’ After securing the ends of the warp with the ‘‘ayaasedua,’’ the other ends of the warp are stretched over the warp carrier or the warp roller and then stretched further away from the loom and then secured with the ‘‘ntwesuo.’’ The ‘‘ntwesuo’’ is made up of wooden board with stones as loads on the board.

Beaming

In the case of conventional looms or the improved version of the traditional loom, the beaming proceeds raddling. Beaming is the process whereby the long warp is stretched taut and rolled or wound onto the warp beam on the loom. In beaming the raddle together with the warp threads are tied into the slay board of the loom. The warp ends are then stretched taut by two to three persons from the front of the loom where the weaver sits and one or two persons use their fingers to comb or dress the threads to remove any entanglements. The warp threads are then rolled unto the roller making sure that an even tension from those pulling is maintained to avoid any slackness during weaving from either the selvedge or any other part of the warp.

The warp is rolled evenly unto the warp roller and at the same time tension is maintained. When the entire warps are almost rolled up to the warp roller, the few inches remaining at the raddle is cut off and loosely knotted front of the raddle. The top part of the raddle is removed and two flat shed sticks are pushed to the back roller to maintain the process. After all these, the warp threads are ready for heddling.

Reeding
After heddling all the yarns are then ready to pass through the dents of the reed. The reed is fixed in the sley and tied to make it firm for the reeding process. With a reed hook, each heddled yarn is threaded through each dent. In reeding, it was observed that the selvedge of the fabric is reinforced with more warp yarns than those in the main fabric. This is done by doubling the selvedge yarns in the dents. When all reeding is done, the loose knots are untied and a section of the warp is drawn.
This is divided into two halves, one in each hand, then passed under the fly rod of the cloth beam, then over it and under the two warp section. After reading, equal tension is applied to the warp for easy shedding.

Tie-up
This is the tying of the treadles and lams to the heddle frames to facilitate correct opening of the shed for weaving. A strong cord and a switch knot or a non-slip knot should be used for the tying. The lams and treadles have series of holes along their length and the tie-up is done according to the design to be woven. The tie-up cords should be of equal length to provide proper opening of the shed.

The treadles are made to hang evenly and parallel at the same height from the ground within the easy reach of the foot to create a very good shed.

KENTE LOOM

The framework of an Ashanti loom contains thirteen pieces, named as follows:

The four posts, 1,2,3,4, called Kofi Nsa nnua ie Kofi hand sticks, Kofi being a personal name generally implying that the person so named was born on a Friday. The lower longitudinal support 5 and 6 are called ntoho, and the upper supports 7 and 8, which are generally notched, are known as nsantwerewa (i.e. Small hand steps). The cross front bar(9), over which lie the warp threads, is called oponko dua, i.e. The horse stick; the rear cross rod (10) the ayase dua, i.e. The belly stick (our breast beam) ; around this rod the cloth is wound. At the end of this rod, and on the right hand of the weaver, two holes are bored, into one of which a wooden rod (13) is inserted leading from the cross bar (9). This enables the weaver to take a turn on the breast beam or ‘belly stick’ (10), and slip the rod into one of the holes and so prevent the pull of the web from causing this bar to revolve and thus slacken the warp.
Test weave
After all the processes above, various weft colours are used on the warp to identify the appropriate colours to be used either for the plane weave or design weaves before the actual weaving starts.

Weaving

The main weaving of the kente cloth starts after passing through the above processes. According to Opanin Kwasi Boateng, old kente weaver of Adanwomase, there are two types of weave. These are plane weave which makes use of a pair of ‘‘asatia’’ heddles and the design or the double weave which uses a pair of ‘‘asanan’’ heddles. According to him, every apprentice or beginner must undergo the weaving of the plain weave before the design weave.

There may be other new techniques involved in addition to the above processes which were not provided in this study but at the moment these are the processes that were observed by researchers.

Securing the crosses and creating chains
After the total number of warp ends has been obtained the crosses should be properly secured before removing the warp from the warping board.
To preserve the crosses, care should be taken in the course of removing the warp from the warp mill. They are preserved by passing a string through the openings created by the various pegs of the warping mill. To remove the warp, first remove the first peg, and then pass your right hand through the opening created. Grasp a length of warp and next is to draw your hand through the opening made by one’s wrist.

Continue to grasp short pieces and pass your hand through the loop till the whole warp is exhausted. At the end of the process the long warp mill look short and handy in a form of a chain stitch. It can also be done by trying along the length of the warp in short pieces to prevent entanglements. After warping, it would be observed that the weavers secure the crosses and bundles at interval along the warp length. They continue to roll the warp length to form a ball with the crosses forming at the end of the boa

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Asante Kente for Sale

Kente History

March 6, 2018
Posted by View: 1168

Strip weaving has exited in West Africa since the 11 th century. In 1697, the Asantehene, the King of the Ashanti people, selected four towns including Adanwomase to travel to Bontuku, a trading centre in northern Cote D’Ivoire, to study the art form.

Once they returned, these apprentices began weaving for Asantehene. Over time, they created their own styles and designs, giving birth to the cloth that today is known as Ashanti Kente. Since that time Adanwomase has been a royal weaving enclave for the Asantehene, and home to the MFUFUTOMAHENE, the chief responsible for weaving traditional black and white kente Cloth for Asante royalty. The Chief is responsible for keeping the Sesia, a basket containing all the historical samples of Kente woven in Adanwomase. Kente Weaving is a complex art, and the unique and beautiful cloths are powerful cultural symbols and a source of pride for Ghanaians and African Diaspora. The cloth is worn and used by royals during ceremonies, and for worship, outdoorings, marriages and funerals. Kente designs chronicle local history and knowledge. Designs have specific names and meanings that reflect cultural values and historical events. To this day, Adanwomase carries on the centuries – old Kente tradition.

Kente cloth:
has its origin with the Ashanti Kingdom, and was adopted by people in Ghana and many other West African counties. It is an Ashanti royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans.

Kente is predominantly made by the Ashanti people (Bonwire,Adanwomase,Wonoo in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region) and Akans (including the Brong, Ahafo and Fante). Kente is also produced by Akan groups in Ivory Coast, such as the Baoule and Anyi. Lastly, Kente is worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Asante. Ashantis refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold designs. Kente characterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. The Asante people choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise (warp) threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants.

The Maroon people of Suriname in South America are the descendants of people who were brought from Africa as slaves after the mid-1600s and who escaped to live in the forests of the interior, eventually obtaining the right of self-government from the colonial powers.[1] The Pangi cloth made by the Maroons is a cotton fabric with multi-colored vertical and horizontal stripes, similar to West African kente cloth.

There is an art to wearing kente. To wear kente properly, it must be worn so that the woven patterned strips are straight horizontally and vertically. In addition, the bottom edge of the cloth should be even all the way around.

Meanings of the colors in Kente cloth:

black—maturation, intensified spiritual energy
blue—peacefulness, harmony and love
green—vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
gold—royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
maroon—the color of mother earth; associated with healing
pink—assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
purple—assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
red—political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
silver—serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
white—purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
yellow—preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility
Kente cloth, a silk and cotton fabric of bright colors and bold patterns, is prized by the Akan kings of Ghana, who wear it only on special occasions. Kente cloth is woven in strips, which are then stitched together to make ceremonial robes. Joining strips of material together is the signature technique used by the West African artist El Anatsui (1944-  ) to make his hanging sculptures, such as Old Cloth Series (cover). The components of Old Cloth Series are strips of wood that have been incised with grids, distressed with a chain saw, burned with an acetylene torch, sanded to remove the surface scorching, and then marked with symbols cut and painted into the squares of the grid. In a final step, the wooden strips are aligned so they resemble the folds of a weathered bolt of cloth. The art of El Anatsui is a contemporary take on the traditional forms of African art, and the grids, weathering, symbols, and burning of the sculpture offer a perspective on the role of western Africa in international trade…..Read more on kente history by clicking here.

How did this fabric (Kente) get from Ghana to you?

Kente cloth has history ranging back over 400 years. Legend has it that kente fabric was first made by two friends who went hunting in a forest and found a spider making its web. The friends stood and watched the spider for two days then returned home and implemented what they had seen.

Originally made from white cotton with some indigo patterns, the making of Kente patterns changed radically when in the seventeenth century when Protuguese traders began to bring silk into Africa. The silk fabrics were pulled apart, at first, to use the silk thread in their fabrics until eventually whole skeins of silk thread began to make their way to Africa and the art of Kente took off.

Kente cloth is produced by the Akan people. It is a royal and sacred cloth originally worn only in times of extreme importance. Kente was the cloth of kings. Even today, when a new design is created , it must first be offered to the royal house. If the king declines to take it, it can then be sold to the public. Designs worn by Asante royalty may not be worn by anyone else. Over time, the use of kente fabric became more widespread, however its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem in the Akan family and the entire country of Ghana. Kente may be used as a special gift item during such ceremonies as child naming, graduation, or marriage. It may also be used as a symbol of respect for the departed during funerals and ancestral remembrance ceremonies.

In Ghana, kente cloth is made by the Akan people (including the Asante, Bono, Fante and Nzema). Kente fabric is also produced by Akan groups in Cote d’Ivoire, like the Baoule and Anyin, who trace their ancestry back to Ghana before the rise of the Ashanti Empire. It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means “basket”. The very first Kente weavers used raffia, or palm leaf fibers, and wove them into a cloth that looked like a basket. The Asante peoples refer to kente cloth as Nwentoma or “woven cloth”.

The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente fabric is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes and bold designs. Kente cloth characterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. The Asante peoples of Ghana choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants.

HOW TO WEAVE KENTE
The procedures for general kente weaving are based on the following; designing, yarn preparation, warping, raddling, beaming, heddling, reeding, tie-up, and weaving.

Preparation of the yarn for warping
Yarns for kente weaving are purchased on hanks and these are wound onto ‘‘duaduwa’’ literally known as bobbins to the required yarn length by the help of the ‘‘ɛntene nnua’’ also known as warping mill.

Warping of Yarns
Warping is the process whereby many long yarns are put together to form the yarn that run lengthwise in a woven fabric. This is done on a warping mill or warping board. But the most frequent and traditionally used one is the warping mill. The next process will be to build up the warp after securing the figures for the number of warp ends and total number of hanks needed for the warp. According to SOURCES, initially primitive weavers drove pegs into the ground and moved with their warp yarns to and from these pegs till they obtained the total length and number of ends required….MORE

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