“KENTE” is a brilliantly colourful fabric, entirely hand-woven by Ghanaian weavers. The brilliant colours and intricate designs associated with Kente have definitely made this fabric the best known of all Ghanaian, and perhaps even all West African textiles. Every design has a story with a proverbial meaning, giving each cloth its own distinction.
Uses Of Kente
Kente cloth is usually worn for ceremonies, festivals, and other sacred occasions. It is also given as a gift for weddings, child naming ceremonies, graduations, and other special events.
Women wear the cloth in 2 pieces – 1 piece about 2 yards long and 45 inches wide wrapped round the waist to form a floor-length skirt worn over a blouse specially sewn in plain material. The other Kente piece was either hung loosely over the arm or used as a shawl or stole.
Men wear the cloth in much the same way as the ‘Toga’ was worn by the ancient Greeks, and it would seem that these ancient people must have been in contact centuries ago
The History Of Ghanaian Kente
The history of Kente weaving extends back more than 400 years. The word “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.
One story about Kente says that two friends learned to weave by observing a spider weave its web. They wove in imitation of the spider, using raffia fibers to create a strip of fabric. Their leaders were so impressed with this new cloth that it became the royal cloth and was saved for special occasions. There are more than 300 different patters of Kente cloth. Each pattern has a name and its own meaning. The meanings come from past events, religious beliefs, political ideas, and social customs.