Kente is Ghana’s acknowledged traditional cloth, with its distinct and vibrant hues, it makes the perfect fabric for any occasion. When it comes to African clothing, Kente fabric is one of the most popular.
Kente was wovern by the inhabitants of the Ashanti Kingdom in the 17th century A.D., and it may be traced back to an ancient African weaving heritage that dates back to roughly 3000 BC. Kente’s origins are steeped in both legend and history.
In the 17th Century, Osei Tutu, the King of the Ashanti Kingdom, recruited a group of weavers from neighbouring towns and villages to study the sophisticated art form of weaving kente in the Ivory Coast.
They began weaving the gorgeous and colorful cloth only for the King when they returned to Ghana because kente was originally manufactured for only royals. The weavers began to develop their own distinct kente styles.
How kente is made
Materials for weaving kente
The raw materials used for weaving kente include:
- Cotton (grown in the north of Ghana)
- Silk (very expensive and was the traditional thread used)
- Rayon (synthetic fibre)
- Metallic thread (adds shine to the cloth)
The dye that is used to change the color of the thread can be manufactured locally by grinding tree bark or leaves. These natural made dyes last really long and do not fade over time.
Kente is woven by hand on antique looms. They use their hands and feet to operate the loom. Between the toes is where the needle that treads the wrap is inserted. The weft is inserted by a shuttle that moves deftly from the left to the right hand.
The Kente loom music, a well-known raucous accompaniment to the action, plays in the background. kro-kro-kro-kro-hin-hin-hin-hin-kro-hin-kro-kro-kro-hin-hin-hin-kro-hin-kro.
Today, kente is still worn by the Ashanti royals, but it is no longer a fabric reserved for only royals. Now, kente is a highly acknowledged traditional cloth in Ghana and so it is worn for most traditional occasions including weddings and engagements.
Now couples wear kente during their traditional weddings. The brides sew them into gorgeous kente styles – which includes kaba with slits (custom-made blouses with long-length skirts), and elegant dress styles.
The grooms either wrap the material over their bodies or sew Kaftans or Agbada outfits with the kente to match the bride.
When it comes to weddings, everyone looks forward to seeing what the bride will wear and every bride of course wants to look their best on their big day. So with weddings and engagements in Ghana, you can never go wrong in Kente.
With accessories, kente matches all accessories. Whether you use gold, silver or beads, they all pair great with kente. So it is mostly about what you desire.