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Adinkra Symbols | History and Inspiration

Posted by Ashley Jones on

Adinkra Symbols | History and Inspiration


Maybe you don’t know what that is, but you’re about to get familiar.

Adinkra are conceptual symbols, markings used to share language, representing a proverb or saying often linked to history, behavior and attitude or nature. These days, Adinkra symbols are commonly used in screen printing, embroidered onto fabrics, and used as an embellishment for pottery; a traditional use as well. Adinkra is credited to the Ashanti and baoules (Ghanaian migrants) as well as to the Gyman of Ivory Coast.

Found in architecture and historically in goldweights (miniature sculpture used for currency before the adaptation of paper and coins in Ghana and the Ivory Coast), and also on D’IYANU’s gold, silver, and black plated men’s necklaces, the deeply rooted Adinkra dates back to the 1800’s (at least) when the Netherlands displayed the inexplicably fly and before then unseen (by anyone outside of Ghana) textiles.


No longer a cultural identifier for a single group of people or mystery to the outside world, Adinkra, which can also be used as a greeting, is worn widely by the many African ethnic groups on the continent, as well as here in the states. You can find it screen printed onto T-shirts, traditionally stamped onto ceremonial cloth, embroidered, and etched onto jewelry.

D’IYANU has adapted the symbols once exclusively stamped on the robes of royalty and religious leaders to produce a limited collection of men’s jewelry pieces with meaning.  

NYANSAPO, a symbolic wisdom knot, appears on our gold necklace, and represents wisdom, intelligence, patience, and ingenuity.

NEA ONNIM NO SUA A, OHU is etched into our silver necklace. It takes the form of a map, representing life long education and knowledge.

DWENNIMMEN takes the inspiration for its shape from a ram’s horn. It represents humility and strength.

What story do you want to tell?

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1 comment

  • Will you all be incorporating any other symbols…sankofa for instance?

    Melissa on

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