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Kente: How Ghana’s popular textile is made

In Ghana, Kente is something that you would hear and see most of the times.

Kente is a Ghanaian textile, made of handwoven cloth, strips of silk and cotton worn in a toga-like fashion by ethnic groups such as the Ashanti and Ewe.

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In modern day Ghana, the wearing of Kente cloth has become widespread to commemorate special occasions. understands that Kente is derived from the word kenten, which means ‘basket’ in the Asante dialect and ‘woven cloth’ in the Akan ethnic group.

It is said that kente was invented by the Ashanti folklore while trying to replicate the patterns of Anansi the spider.

The production is classified by three versions, authentic Kente cloth made by traditional weavers, Kente print produced by brands and mass-produced Kente pattern typically produced in China for Westerners.

Authentic Kente cloth is the most expensive, while Kente print varies in price depending on production style.

Weaving is done on a wooden loom in which multiple threads of dyed fabric are pressed together before being apprenticed under a master weaver before producing their own patterns.

After the process, rolls of cloth are then imprinted with a brand to signify authenticity.

Also, gender has an influence on cloth production with the process traditionally considered a male practice.

It is also important to note that colors have different meanings.

Black symbolises maturation, intensified spiritual energy, spirits of ancestors, passing rites, mourning, and funeral with blue representing peacefulness, harmony, and love.

Green symbolises vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewa while gold represents royalty, wealth, high status, glory and spiritual purity.

On the other hand, grey represent healing and cleansing rituals associated with ash with maroon standing for the color of mother earth associated with healing.

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Others are;

  • Pink – associated with the female essence of life a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • Purple – associated with feminine aspects of life usually worn by women
  • Red – political and spiritual moods, 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.

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