Thursday, 16 February 2012

History of Kente Cloth

 Kente is a brilliantly coloured fabric that is hand-woven by Ghanaian weavers. The origins of Kente Cloth date back to 12th century Africa, where it was worn by Kings, Queens, and important figures in Ghana's society during ceremonial events and special occasions. The word "Kente" comes from the word "kenten", which means basket. The very first Kente weavers used raffia, or palm leaf fibres, and wove them into a cloth that looked like a basket, which is why it was given this name. - accessed 04/02/12
 Ghana's weavers used looms to make four inch wide strips of Kente cloth, and wove the strips together to form larger garments.

There are more than 300 different patterns of Kente cloth, each pattern with a name and its own meaning. The meanings come from past events, religious beliefs, political ideas, and social customs. The colours used also have their own meanings, for example red represents death or bloodshed and was often worn during political rallies. - accessed 04/02/12
 This pattern is called ‘Sika Futoro’ which means “gold dust”.  Before the use of coins and paper as money, gold dust was used as a medium of exchange among the Akan peoples and was therefore considered as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The predominant use of intricately textured patterns in yellows, orange and reds replicate the visual characteristics of gold dust. The cloth symbolises wealth, royalty, elegance, spiritual purity and honourable achievement. - accessed 15/02/12

The men wore the cloth in the same way the Toga was worn by the ancient Greeks, whereas women usually wore the cloth in 3 pieces. Each piece was about two yards long. One piece was wrapped around the waist to form a floor length skirt worn over a blouse specially sewn together in plain material. The other cloth was either used as a stole, or shawl or hung loosely over the arm.


  1. I have seen many designs that seem to my untrained eye to be rather similar to this in Petticoat Lane in London where there are many imported cloth merchants. But not woven, so I guess they are rip offs.

    And, thanks for visiting my blog and giveaway. I have joined your interesting site.

  2. Thanks, will have to visit there when I'm next in London! And thanks for taking the time to read my blog :)