Saturday, February 4, 2012

A D I N K R A ! - Fabric stamping from Ghana

I've mentioned before how we collect not only textiles, but also tools used to make those textiles.  So here are some Adinkra stamps along with a piece of Adinkra, all of which we got in Ghana. (Our travel photos from that trip are here.)  And here's a video of someone using the stamps.

The stamps are carved from calabash gourds & you can see on the 2nd example that they are curved.  You'll notice in the video that the printers have to "rock" the stamps a bit to get the complete design to stamp.

A piece of fabric uses many different stamps, broken up by the colorful embroidery used to stitch 2 strips of fabric together (again, strip woven fabric used as part of the overall design), then they use a piece of wood that looks like a hair pick to make the parallel lines that also make the outline of the checkerboard.

The stamps represent ideas and proverbs.  Head on over to to see an explanation of what the different symbols mean.  (Click on the symbols at the top of that page.) Photos of a stamp carver hard at work are here.
In the second photo, I was trying to show you how the stamps are held.  Each one has little holes in the back (3 or 4, depending on the size/shape of the stamp).  Small sticks are inserted into these holes (they look like overgrown toothpicks).  Then the 3-4 sticks are held together with a piece of cloth bound by string.  It is not at all stable, everything slips apart quite easily.  We try to never handle ours because they dismantle if you look sideways at them! We took them all apart to get them home, but have tried to avoid that since.

We bought our stamps at a tourist shop in Tamale and they haven't been used.

1 comment:

  1. Hello and thanks for sharing your Ghanaian Adinkra adventure. You mention you haven't used your stamps. Would you be willing to donate portions of the stamps to our Village ( Thanks for sharing :-)


You don't have to say you love me...