Monday, March 10, 2008

Adinkra symbols

For the final project I am going to be working with images from packaging. I started by scanning in lots of bits of packaging I had saved, one of which was an elaborate wrapper from a bar of Fair-trade chocolate. When I looked at it in detail I found that the symbols were called Adinkra and were traditional allegorical symbols used on the robes of chiefs in Ghana. I really had not noticed them on the wrapper but just thought it was a nice piece of paper. The symbols tended to be used on mourning robes and only by people of special standing. Now they are used on many types of festive occasions and also as logos on a variety of items. I have made some printing blocks from cord and also a couple of lino prints.
The bird symbol is called ‘return and get it’ and is the symbol of the importance of learning from the past.
The ‘Siamese Crocodile’ is about the animals sharing one stomach but still fighting over food. As I understand it the message is that infighting and tribalism is harmful to everyone.
My plan is to juxtapose these symbols which carry a thoughtful message with those which are on nearly every piece of packaging we throw away but are hardly ever noticed.


  1. wow, I stuck one of those wrappers in my sketcbooks thinking I should do something with those symbols! I like your ideas.

  2. Hey there,
    Saw your work on flickr.. and came here via your profile.
    How interesting that you are doing an access course in art and design. I'm just into my second year as a National Diploma student with my eye on Uni's for next year.
    Belatedly by the way, I'm 31.
    I used to live in Andover, but now I'm in Manchester.
    I love your textile work.
    So inspiring.

    I blog too, but not as often as I used to.
    I'm at


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