African symbols - Adinkra
Adinkra is visual symbols that represent aphorisms or concepts through their philosophical and historical significance. Adinkra symbols were initially carved printed on stools (for ritual and domestic use), or cloth which royals wore to essential ceremonies and events. Nowadays, African symbols (Adinkra) are used extensively in logos, fabrics, and pottery. These symbols are also used in walls and various architectural features.
The African symbols mainly have a decorative function and signify objects that evocative and convey traditional African wisdom, aspects of Africans life, or the environment. Hence, there are multiple and diverse African symbols with distinct meanings and are often linked with proverbs.
Knowing that the Gyaman people of Ghana and la Côte d'Ivoire are the initial people with whom the symbols have originated, through time, these symbols assumed global importance and are now found in clothes, logos, furniture, earthenware pots, sculpture, and many others. Besides, these African symbols symbolize the richness of Akan culture and also serve as a shorthand as a communication form for profound truths in a visual way.
Gye Nyame is an African symbol meaning "except God." It is the most popular Adinkra symbol and expresses the Akans people's deep faith in the Supreme Being, called by various titles and names like Onyame, Twereduampɔn, Onyankopɔn, etc.
The African expression "Gye Nyame" can be used in multiple ways. For instance, it may signal the necessity of God's intervention in hard times and situations, which transcends man's ability to resolve. The symbol can also be used to reveal the relative greatness of an entity.
Sankofa means "return and get it." It is the symbol conveying the message of the importance of learning from the past. There are two different Sankofa symbol designs. The more famous one is the bird with the contorted neck, while the second symbol looks like the conventional symbol for the heart sign. The second Sankofa sign is an asymmetrical vertical axis, with each half spotting two spirals. These spirals represent the idea of going around and ending up at a point-presumably the source.
Adinkrahene symbol means "King of the Adinkra symbols." It is a symbol of authority, charisma, and leadership. The symbol is the inspiration for the design of the other characters. The sign consists of three concentric circles. Its abstract form connotes the importance of concepts and ideas, which are the essence of Adinkra, visual representations of Akan philosophy concepts.
Dweninmmen symbol means "the horns of a ram," which signifies strength (in mind, soul, and body), wisdom, humility, and learning. Rams are strong, defense, fierce, and can be even intimidating. For Africans, humility is a cherished virtue, while modesty in lifestyle and dress is upheld. For example, the adinkra symbol Owuo Atwedee is one of such signs. The message of this African symbol says that everyone will climb the ladder of death. The character is a warning that powerful and robust though one may be, and death is inevitable.
Funtumfunefu Denkyemfunefu symbol notates two mythical crocodiles with one shared stomach. It is a symbol of unity in diversity, giving sharing, and a common destiny. The proverb from which the sign is derived is known that Funtumfunafu and Denkyemfunafu shared a stomach, but when they got something (probably food), they strived over it, the sweetness of the food felt as it passed via the throat.
Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan
Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan's symbol means "Love does not lose its way home. Those led by love always end up in the right place". For the Akans people, love has a central theme in all relationships in its multiple colors and shades. Without love, Africans believe that relationships can hardly survive. Hence, being a polygamous society, the Akans people celebrate and recognize erotic love between men and women.
Aya symbol means "fern." It is a symbol of independence, endurance, hardiness, resourcefulness, and defiance against difficulties.
Many sources spell the name "intention" as "ntontan." Ananse is the famous spider in Akan folktales known for its cunning. However, the spider is respected for its creativity in weaving a web capable of trapping prey. The spider's web is also known for its strength. Indeed, a string of the spider's web is famous for being healthier, more versatile than steel of the same thickness.