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Kente Cloth

The design story

Kente cloths have been made in Ghana for hundreds of years. Some believe that the craft started after two Ashanti hunters were inspired by a spider's web they had seen in the forest. Others say that the Ew people were the first to weave Kente cloths and that the Ashanti people adopted the techniques much later.

In the past, the Kente designers and weavers were always men. It was feared that the task was too taxing for women and that they would become ill or even die if they tried to design. However, women are now challenging this tradition, and female weavers are producing some of the most striking new designs.

Kente cloths are made up of a series of strips, each of which is woven separately and is designed to convey a meaning or to commemorate an important event. The strip in the photograph is woven with an image of the 'Golden Stool', a symbol of Ashanti unity that plays an important part in Kente designs. Another strip, carrying the message that 'two heads are better than one', hangs in the United Nations building in New York.

How is meaning conveyed in Kente designs?

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Practical Action - Technology challenging povertyEuropean Commission - Department for International Development

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