Where does Kente Cloth originate?

One of the most famous textiles that are used in Ghana is the Kente. New clothing lines such as ANEBA put a new twist integrating new Kente fashion. There are many conflicting claim regarding this most celebrated textile’s actual origin. Even though many of the mainstream texts do attribute the link of the famous Kente textile to the Ashanti, there is also another credible and alternative view that it is actually originated with the Ewe people, who are from Ghana. To know more about the origination of this most famous cloth, this article will take a look at the origination of the Kente cloth.

What is the possible origination of this popular cloth?

Even thought, there are various types of patterns and colours of this particular clothing, this clothing also reflects the history of the Ashanti people. Ashanti are those who are the members of the Akan people. These people speak the Akan or the Ashanti dialect when communicating. The meaning of Kente is “basket”. This is said to be originated from the dialect that they speak. On the other hand, they refer to this cloth as “nwentoma” and this means woven cloth in their language.

The empire of Ashanti was located in the present day Ghana, which first emerged during the 17th century in West Africa. There are many myths and stories regarding the Kente and one of the popular legends from Ashanti mention that, from the Bonwire village, two farmers named Watah Kraban and Krugu Amoaya came across a spider named Ananse. This spider is a popular character in the Ghanaian mythology. It was spinning a web and the farmers were in awe when they watched the magnificent web. They returned back to their village and tried to re-create what they came across.

From the white and black fibers from the Raffia tree, the two brothers wove the special cloth, which they presented to the King Nana Osei Tutu or Asantehene, whose reign lasted from 1701- 1717. This cloth was approved as the royal cloth and the development of Kente cloth was reserved only for the important events. However, according to various sources, the people of the Ashanti Empire actually learned the weaving of Kente from Ewe people. These people also are located in Ghana, similar to Ashanti and there are various historical resources, which states that the Ewe people named it after how this cloth was woven, although the weaving art of this clothing is not much claimed.

According to the language of the Ewes, “Ke na te” is the procedure of creating this cloth. In the weaving procedure of this cloth, the weft is opened (Ke) and then it is passed through the weft and then it is pressed (Te). This process is repeated until the cloth is woven. The cloth which was related with the Ashanti Empire was made with Silk, instead of the Raffia fibers during the 17th and 18 centuries.
However, according to the present day interpretations and the cultural heritage, this clothing is a symbol and representation of the people of the Ashanti Empire.

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