Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adinkra Cloth II

I finished the second of two adinkra cloths this week. It has the same symbols and basic colors as the previous one, but I used a different dyeing technique and different colors for the stamped grid and symbols. You can really see the differences when you see them side by side.

Adinkra is a technique in which sacred symbols are stamped on a cloth in a grid pattern. There are over 100 adinkra symbols, so each cloth carries its own message based on the combination of symbols used. The technique originated in Ghana and was traditionally used for funerals (adinkra means “goodbye”). Adinkra cloth is now used for a variety of occasions.

Traditional adinkra cloth from Ghana

I first came upon adinkra symbols 10 years ago when I saw some at a rubber stamp store. I was drawn to them, and when I learned about the meaning behind each symbol, I became even more intrigued. I didn't pursue doing anything with them until I saw a photo of an adinkra cloth in a world textiles book. That inspired me to create my first adinkra cloth.

My first adinkra cloth

Since then, I have created numerous adinkra cloths. Many of them were created as gifts for friends and family. I have created cloth with a healing message for sick friends, as a blessing for a new home or baby, and with thoughts of love for a wedding or funeral.

Wedding Adinkra created for a friend

I have also created adinkra cloth that helps me accept and make sense of disturbing events, both personal and in the larger world. As I explore the world of adinkra, I find that my cloth is moving away from the traditional grid pattern, and I have enjoyed incorporating adinkra into my artcloth.

Adinkra from my latest series

I share my interest in adinkra with others through workshops in which participants create a personal adinkra cloth. They reflect on themselves and their lives and create a cloth with symbols that are meaningful to them. The stories behind each person's cloth are amazing. One woman created a cloth in honor of a son who had dyed. Another created a cloth that reflected the growth and transformation of her life's journey. They truly are sacred cloth.

If I have piqued your interest, I am teaching a 2-day adinkra workshop this July at the Majestic Ranch Arts Foundation. Participants will hand-dye the cloth, learn the most common adinkra symbols and then design and create their own adinkra. For more information, visit my website.

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