Woman's Kente

CULTURE:
Asante peoples
DATE:
c. 1920s - 1940
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General Description

Kente is the best known and most popular of the Asante textiles. Oral traditions credit a spider’s web-making with having inspired two hunters to create the first kente. Osei Tutu I, the first king of the Asante, reserved the cloth for royals. Over time, with greater varieties of colors and materials, kente became accessible to more of the population.

Comprising sixteen strips, this kente cloth features narrow stripes and motifs created by the weft (cross-strip threads). The gingham weft design has various names, including asambo (the breast of the guinea fowl), asam ntakra (guinea fowl feathers), and kotwa (scar). Guinea fowl feathers are associated with sacredness and spiritual healing, as well as physical elegance.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn Walker, The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, Label text, 2018.