In my exploration of my history and culture, one of the more fascinating aspects for me has been the re-discovery of adinkra symbolism. The adinkra is a symbol representing a concept, phrase or proverb, elegantly packaged in a single hieroglyph. It is a wonderful supplement to our history of oral story-telling; illustrators and giots working together to teach life’s lessons.
Originally, adinkras were used during rituals, on cloth in respect for the dead and mourning, for example, or to honor royalty. But eventually adinkras became a ubiquitous part of the culture, carved into walls and architecture, fabrics and pottery. The oldest known fabric rendering of an adinkra was found in 1817 and was most certainly created long before that.
Today we see adinkras through-out African-American neighborhoods, on T-shirts, body art, jewelry. Some of us have seen the symbols without really understanding what they mean or the genius minds behind them. But students of the culture are often quite taken by the symbols as they carry special meaning to the children of the African Diaspora.
For instance, the sankofa symbol, which can be either a stylized heart or a bird looking over its shoulder, means “return and get it,” emphasizing the importance of learning from the past.
The “gye nyame” is another popular and visually arresting symbol. According to adinkra.org, the gye nyame represents the supremacy of God; God is all.
My personal favorite is “Duafe,” the wooden comb, representing beauty and femininity. The comb resembles an afro pick from the Sixties.
As always, these symbols can be found on WRAP AND SOUL waistbeads, adding special significance to these adornments. Walk in beauty and power!