Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity

Asante peoples, Ghana
Cotton, rayon
National Museum of African Art, National Museum of Natural History, purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, 1983-85, EJ10590

From Strips to Cloth

Asante kente

Kente is made by the Asante and Ewe peoples and is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means "basket." The Asante peoples also refer to kente as nwentoma or "woven cloth."

The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes and bold designs. Kente charcterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. This means "my skill is exhausted" or "my ideas have come to an end."

Click on the highlighted words to hear their pronunciation

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