Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa that represent concepts or original thoughts. Adinkra are used on fabric, walls, in pottery, woodcarvings and logos. Fabric adinkra are often made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing. They also can be used to communicate evocative messages that represent parts of their life or those around them.
The Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti in Ghana are timeless and still used today. There are contradictory views as to their origin and age. The name “Adinkra” can probably be traced back to the word “Dinkra” of the Akan/Twi Language, which is spoken by the Ashanti. “Dinkra” means: being separated, taking leave, saying farewell. Fabrics printed with the Adinkra motifs are often used during times of mourning. Approximately four hundred such symbols are known in Ghana. Normally, the Adinkra are simplified or stylized representations of objects, plants, animals, natural shapes, hairstyles, or buildings. Many of these motifs share a common basic form, and slight variations in the representation may entail a change in the meaning.