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Man working on a traditional Kente loom, Kent fabrics in the background
Ewe variant by Kentestoff

Kente (actually kente ) is a material that is made by the Akan people ( Ashanti , Nzima , Fanti and others) and the Ewe people in what is now Ghana and in some parts of the Ivory Coast and was previously only allowed to be worn by kings. The starting material was fine cotton or silk . Since there is no local sericulture was that Ashanti imported since the 17th century silk dresses, entribbelten these clothes and so won silk for the Kentestoffe.

Not everyone was allowed to weave the finer cloths for the royal kente robes. Groups of skilled weavers were put together to serve the kings and design and manufacture high quality fabrics. Weaving technology was a jealously kept secret. All other weavers were forbidden to use patterns and designs that were intended exclusively for the king and the royal court. The king amassed hundreds of garments - each different in design and pattern. Traditionally, he never wore the same robe twice in public.

Geometric motifs that resembled fish, birds, fruits, leaves, sunsets, rainbows and other sights in nature, produced a symbolic weaving art that was accurate down to the smallest detail. Although outwardly very similar, there are differences between Aschanti and Ewekente in both the symbolism and the weaving technique. Each pattern has its own name and stands for a saying or an event.

For example, the pattern "Kyeretwie" (a kente pattern of the Ashanti ) means "The Lion Catcher" and is reminiscent of a legend about the time of Asantehene ("Ashanti King") Kwaku Dua I. Panyin in the 19th century. Allegedly, as a show of bravery, he asked his men to catch leopards with their bare hands. Black stripes within the pattern now refer to the spots of the leopard, etc. The pattern thus represents bravery, extraordinary success and inspired leadership.

The pattern “Abusua ye dom” from the Kent tradition of the Ewe, on the other hand, stands for the saying “the Abusua (extended family) is a power” and refers to family ties, the value of solidarity and cooperation.

Even today, new caps are designed, named - and renamed. At the time of the first Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah there was a popular pattern with the name "Fathia Fata Nkrumah", translated: "Fathia [the wife of Nkrumah] does good for Nkrumah". After the fall of the increasingly dictatorial Nkrumah, the pattern was renamed “Obaakofo Mmu man” (“One man alone does not rule a nation”).

Traditional Kente weaving is mainly produced by the Ashanti and Ewe in Ghana. In the Ashanti region, the traditional fabrics are made in villages near the capital of the Ashanti region, Kumasi. Many weavers work on these products in Bonwire, Wonoo, Maape, Adawonmase and Ntonso. In the Volta region, the Kente fabric is mainly produced in the Kpandu region in the north of the Volta region .


  • Made in Africa (2014), director and camera: Gert Chesi for the Museum der Völker . The film shows Aschanti Kente Weber doing her traditional work.


  • John Picton and John Mack: African Textile. British Museum Publication 1989

Web links

Commons : Kente  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Made in Africa trailer at: