Since we are going over the Priciples of Design this 9 weeks, I wanted to include some hands on, multicultral lessons and activities for my students. This project is all about patterns and how they are everywhere in our lives. From our clothing to our dishes and carpet and rugs and even in the seats in our cars. This blew them away. They didnt thin that even those things could include patterns.
So for the pattern lesson, We learned about Kente Cloths from Ghana. Luckily, we have a teacher at school from Ghana and she brought in her Kente Cloths to show us. We watched a video on how they are made and how much decipline is involved in becoming a weaver. Only 10% of the village are able to sit and weave for 8 hours and only complete a strip of material.
With multicultural art projects, I believe it is important for kids to make a connection between the original art and their own art: whether it’s the materials, the process, the meaning. or the purpose. In this case, we will look at the history of kente cloth, discover how they create these woven cloths in Ghana, observe the colors and symbols used, and finally recreate our own version out of painted paper weaving.
Kente (kenten means “basket”) is a hand-woven cloth originally from the Ashanti Kingdom, in Ghana, West Africa. Kente is also made by the Akans in Cote d’Ivoire. The popularity of the colors and patterns of the kente make it one of the most recognizable textiles in Africa. However, most people outside of Ghana do not understand the distinct meaning and symbolism, which has been ingrained in Ghanian culture for hundreds of years. Worn by royalty, the wealthy, or other highly respected people, now it is used by everyone, especially for special occasions such as festivals, ceremonies, and holidays.
Both men’s and women’s clothing can be made of kente cloth, but the clothing is used in different ways. The men usually use the cloth as a “toga” (like ancient Greeks), and the women use the fabric as a wrap-around skirt, blouse, and shawl.
black—strong spiritual energy
blue—love, fortune, peacefulness, harmony
green—plants, harvesting, growth, good health
gold—royalty, wealth, high status, purity
grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
maroon/purple— mother earth; associated with healing and protection
pink—female essence of life; mild, gentle, tender
red—strong political moods; bloodshed; death
silver—serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
white—purification, healing; festive occasions
yellow—preciousness, beauty, holiness
Here is the link to the video we watched. The students really liked this project. They worked really hard on creating a pleasing pattern with the approporiate colors that they thought represented themselves.