Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kente Festival

 Color and History

         Last week we helped celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Kente Festival in the Volta Region in Agotime Kpetoe, Ghana. This festival celebrates the beauty that is the Kente Cloth that is indigenous to Ghana but it is certainly more than 20 years old. In fact the history of the cloth dates back to its origins between 300 and 1600 AD. by the people of the Asanti. The Asanti tribe still makes up about 70% of all the people of Ghana and they still have a King today that lives in a palace in Kumasi. His name is King Asantehene Osei Tutu II.

        It is also held that Kente was originally designed and originated with raffia weaving in a town near Kumasi called Bonwire. Its traditions go back to the earliest of West African weaving around 3000 BC. Archaeologists have found excavations that have revealed spindles, looms and weights.

        Kente is the national cloth. There are many types of Kente. Each has its own symbolism and name, telling the history, culture and social practice of the weavers of the cloth. Kente is used for different purposes and for different functions. The weaver derives names and meanings for the cloth from moral values, oral literature, philosophy, behavior, individual achievements, animal life, proverbs and social life. The beauty of the Kente is the color, chosen for its symbolism and visual effect. The weavers themselves are all small men with great arm strength and very agile feet. I have not seen a female weaver. Single strips are woven with very fine thread and are less than six inches wide and of varying lengths. Then they are sewed together to make these massive pieces of gorgeous colorful cloth. 

This Holy, a Kente weaver in Ho

His loom. See the thread spindles on the ground?

Holy's uncle. No loss of muscle tone and he is in his late 60's. 

The need for muscle mass is here pulling the tread held tight with these blocks.

Some of Holy's designs.
This is an antique piece, at least 10 ft by 10 ft, that I saw at an art gallery.


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