Adinkra Sankofa African Symbol Ghana Akan blog 001

ADINKRA SANKOFA SYMBOL

All the Adinkra symbols have their own, unique meanings and they stand out with their incredible style and outstanding ideas.
The Sankofa meaning is quite unique and it does align with the various ideas shared by the African symbols of the Akan people of Ghana.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE SANKOFA SYMBOL?
In the Twi language, Sankofa literally means, “Go back to fetch it.”
SAN (return, back), KO (go), FA (take, fetch).
That being said, the more complex meaning is to go to the past so you can build your future. Simply put, you should always remember your past and what it means before you move onward with your life. There is a lot that you can learn from the past that can bring you tremendous benefits and a very good set of long-term results.
Sankofa is one of those things that constantly reminds you that all past experiences can guide you in the future. You can’t build the future if you ignore the past. Earlier experiences, and all the lessons you learned from them, can really help you achieve amazing results in the long run. And that’s the thing that truly makes Sankofa shine.

THE TRUE POWER OF MINDSET AND CULTURE
At its core, Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol representing culture and a great spiritual mindset. As they try to build a better future, people in Africa have always been focused on their legacy and Sankofa is a clear representation. It focuses on success and growth, while also understanding the challenges and limitations that can appear in the long term.
Thus, you want to look at the past to accumulate knowledge, and then harness that in order to bring about a better tomorrow. Some also see the Sankofa symbol as a way to realize your spirit.
Thanks to a window into the past, you get to boost your identity and truly focus on success, which can really pay off and make the outcome shine. It can also be a representation of your vision and identity.

“HEART” SHAPE SANKOFA SYMBOL
There are two variations of the stylized “heart” shape Sankofa symbol; both have the same meaning.
The most widely used is the one with a pair of spirals at the top and bottom.
The one less used is the pair of spirals only at the top.

Sankofa Adinkra Symbol Ghana Akan meaningSankofa Adinkra Symbol Ghana Akan meaningAdinkra Sankofa Symbol Ghana Akan meaningAdinkra Sankofa Symbol Ghana Akan meaning

 

SANKOFA BIRD SYMBOL
Unlike the scary-looking cockatrice dragon of the Fante, which was used to spread fear (will you fly or will you vanish; either way, you can’t escape from us), Sankofa is an elegant bird, spreading wisdom and knowledge.
The mythical Sankofa is represented with an elongated neck, feet firmly planted forward and head turned towards the back, with its beak in the direction of the tail.
This symbol comes in two variations: with or without carrying a precious egg in its mouth.
The egg symbolizes the knowledge and wisdom of the past for the generations to come.

Adinkra Sankofa Symbol Ghana Akan meaningSankofa Adinkra Symbol Ghana Akan meaning

                                                                          

ADINKRA SANKOFA IN CLOTHING
Adinkra cloths were once reserved for royals and spiritual leaders to wear at funerals and other important occasions. They were hand stamped on undyed, hand-woven, natural cotton cloth or on brighter-colored imported textiles.
The stamps are carved from calabash and the traditional stamping ink (Adinkra Aduru) is made by boiling the bark of the Badie tree with iron slag.
In recent days, screen printing is overtaking the hand stamping process, but you can still see traditional hand stamped cloths.
You can also see the Sankofa symbol in embroidery on Akunitan cloths and as applique on the Asafo flags of Fante.

Adinkra Sankofa symbol African cloth Ghana 1Green cotton ground Adinkra cloth, hand-stamped in Ghana West Africa. The size of the cloth is 120" x 82" (305 cm x 208 cm), circa 1960s. Click on the image for additional photos and information.

 

Adinkra Sankofa symbol African cloth Ghana 2Red cotton ground Adinkra cloth, hand-stamped in Ghana West Africa. The size of the cloth is 133" x 87" (338 cm x 221 cm), circa 1970s.    Click on the image for additional photos and information.

 

Adinkra Sankofa symbol African cloth Ghana 3Blue cotton ground Adinkra cloth, hand-stamped in Ghana West Africa. The size of the cloth is 131" x 103" (332 cm x 261 cm), circa 1970s.    Click on the image for additional photos and information.

 

Sankofa Adinkra symbol stamp blog Ghana 1Sankofa Adinkra symbol stamp blog Ghana 2Sankofa Adinkra symbol stamp blog Ghana 3 

Authentic Sankofa symbol Adinkra stamps used in Ghana for the stamping of Adinkra cloths. The height of these stamping blocks is 3" (80 mm) and the stamping motives size is approximately 3" (75mm) x  2 1/2" (65 mm). Weight approximately 18 grams. Hand-carved from calabash (gourd).

 

Akunitan Sankofa symbol cloth of the Great Ghana Africa 2Akunitan embroidered African cloth worn by Ashanti (Asante) and Fante Chiefs in Ghana West Africa. The size of the cloth is 120" x 84" (304 cm x 213 cm), circa 1960s. Click on the image for additional photos and information.

 

Akunitan Sankofa symbol cloth of the Great Ghana Africa 1Akunitan applique African cloth worn by Ashanti (Asante) and Fante Chiefs in Ghana West Africa. The size of the cloth is 127" x 84" (322 cm x 213 cm), circa 1970s.Click on the image for additional photos and information.
 
Sankofa Adinkra Symbol Asafo frankaa African flag Fante GhanaRecent Asafo flag (Frankaa) of the Fante (Ghana) depicts two Sankofa birds carrying eggs in their mouth.
The size of the flag is 62" (157 cm) x 37" (94 cm).

ADINKRA SANKOFA IN ADORNMENTS
In Africa, adornments are used to decorate the human body and are believed to bring good luck and also protect against evil spirits.
The Sankofa symbol is widely used in all kinds of adornments.
Adornments are made of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stainless steel, creating beautiful necklaces, bracelets, waist beads, earrings, anklets and hair ornaments among others.

Sankofa Adinkra African Beaded Necklace and Earrings handmade GhanaGhanaian woman wearing a set of Sankofa jewelry. Beaded necklace and earrings materials: Stainless steel and handmade recycled glass beads.
Sankofa Adinkra African Anklet GhanaSankofa Adinkra African Beaded Necklace handmade Ghana1) Sankofa anklet. Materials: stainless steel.
2) Beaded bracelet. Materials: stainless steel and handmade recycled beads.

 

 Sankofa Adinkra African Beaded Bracelet handmade GhanaSankofa Adinkra African Waist Beads handmade Ghana

1) African beaded bracelet with Sankofa symbol. Materials: hand made Krobo recycled glass beads and stainless steel. 
2) African waist beads with Sankofa symbol charm. Materials: Glass seed beads and stainless steel.

SANKOFA ADINKRA SYMBOL IN AKAN GOLDWEIGHTS
For centuries, the Akan people of Ghana used goldweights for measuring gold dust.
These little art pieces were made from brass, using the ancient lost wax technique.
Many goldweights depicted proverbs and symbols from the Akan culture.
The Sankofa was among the very popular goldweight figures.

 Adinkra Sankofa Goldweight brass Ghana AkanAdinkra Sankofa Goldweight brass Ghana Akan1) Sankofa goldweight: Height: 1 1/16" (28 mm), Weight: 13 grams, circa 1950s. 
2) Sankofa goldweight: Height: 1 1/4" (32 mm), Weight 11.5 grams, circa 1930s.
          

ADINKRA SANKOFA SYMBOL AND MUSIC
In Africa, music is a large part of daily life and Ghana is not an exception -
from birth celebrations to funerals and everything in between!
It doesn’t matter if you are in the smallest village or in the largest town - music is everywhere!
Drums are one of the major musical instruments in African traditional music.
Most drums are carved from a single piece of wood, often decorated with Adinkra symbols and proverbs.
Below, please see samples of the most well-known drums: the Djembe and the ceremonial drums used in Ghana that are decorated with Sankofa Adinkra symbols.

Adinkra Sankofa Symbol African ceremonial drum Ghana 1African ceremonial drum hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa. The height of the drum is 53" (135 cm) and the drum head diameter is 18" (45 cm). The weight is 132 lbs (60 Kg), circa 1990s. Click on the image for additional photos and information.
Adinkra Sankofa Symbol African ceremonial drum Ghana 2African ceremonial drum hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa. The height of the drum is 51" (130 cm) and the drum head is 13" (33 cm). The weight is 110 lbs (50 kg), circa 1990s. Click on the image for additional photos and information.
Adinkra Sankofa Symbol African ceremonial drum Ghana 3African ceremonial drum hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa. The height of the drum is 35" (90 cm) and the drum head diameter is  9 1/2" (24 cm). The weight of the drum is 18 lbs (8 kg), circa 1960s. Click on the image for additional photos and information.
Adinkra Sankofa Symbol African ceremonial drum Ghana 4African ceremonial drum hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa. The height of the drum is 19" (48 cm) and the drum head diameter is 8 1/2" (22 cm). The weight of the drum is 15 lbs (6 kg), circa 1960s. Click on the image for additional photos and information. 
Sankofa Adinkra symbol djembe drum Ghana 2
A pair of Djembe drums hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa, featuring the Adinkra Sankofa symbol. The height of the drums is 26" (65 cm) and the drum head diameter is 13" (33 cm). Hand-carved from a single piece of Tweneboa wood (drum wood).  
Sankofa Adinkra symbol djembe drum Ghana 1Sankofa Adinkra symbol djembe drum Ghana 4Another pair of Djembe drums hand-carved from a single piece of wood in Ghana West Africa, featuring the Adinkra Sankofa symbol. The height of the drums is 22" (56 cm) and the drum head diameter is 11" (28 cm). Hand-carved from a single piece of Tweneboa wood (drum wood).       

CLOSING THOUGHTS
The interesting thing about the Sankofa meaning is that it shows just how important the past is for any African culture. There is a lot you can learn from the past, which can guide you towards having a better life in the long-term. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to achieve, but, if you do it right and you know how to approach any challenges, the benefits can, indeed, be amazing. It’s important to learn more about all African symbols, since they offer insight into the local mindset and culture, not to mention you can have a better understanding of their beliefs!

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