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Looking elegant in Kente

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Of all the African fabrics, Kente is arguably the best known. Popularly known as the icon of African heritage around the globe, Kente can be defined by its bold designs, bright colours, multi-coloured patterns and dazzling shapes.

Made from African silk, Kente comes from the Ashanti (Akan) word (Kenten), which means basket, because it features a woven look as that of a woven basket and is also inspired by a spider’s web. Kente dates back to 375 years ago in the Ashanti Kingdom of Ghana, where it was worn only by the kings, queens and chiefs. The royals would notably wear their bright coloured Kente cloth to festivals and other important engagements. Over time, Kente found its way among the Ivorians and many other West African countries.

The uniqueness of the African fabric is that the many geometric patterns featured on the Kente cloth have specific meanings relating to the history or beliefs of the Ashanti people. Each pattern and design, although colourful and rich on the outside, is meant to say something about heritage, family, and culture. The designs and colour combinations help portray a number of different concepts, such as democratic rule, creativity, life experience of the wearer, religious philosophies, and family lines.

Kente fabric thus is not just a way of making a statement about today, but also a valuable way of maintaining continuity with the collected wisdom of the past, both from personal and community experiences and history.

Here are some meanings to the colours used within the Kente:

Black means maturity and intensified spiritual energy. Blue means peace, harmony and love, while green represents vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, and spiritual renewal.

Gold stands for royalty, wealth, high status, glory, and spiritual purity; grey means healing and cleansing, and is associated with ash. Maroon represents colour of mother earth, associated with healing. Pink is associated with the female essence of life.

Purple goes for feminine aspects of life, and usually worn by women, while red represents political and spiritual moods; bloodshed, sacrificial rites and death.

Since Kente was first produced, people around the world are beginning to embrace it; from presidents to celebrities, and more. The Kente cloth is now infused on the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, New York, and more, in the form of dresses, shoes, shirts, pants, bags, accessories, and so much more.

More than ever, the Kente cloth, whether faux kente or the Kente-cloth, has risen in pop culture and can be seen worn by a bevy of celebrities.

Article Credit: Businessdayonline

Updated 4 Years ago

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