Kente: The Most Famous Woven Cloth About 400 years ago, kente cloth, an iconic African fabric full of symbolism and meaning, was first woven in an Ashanti (or Asante) village called Bonwire. A legend about Anansi, the trickster spider, explains the origin of the woven cloth. Two brothers, Kurugu (or Karaban) and Ameyaw, went hunting and saw a spider, Anansi, weaving a web. Inspired by the web’s intricacy, they returned home and wove the first kente cloth with intricate geometric patterns, using black and white fibers from the raffia tree. The weavers presented their black and white cloth to the Ashanti king, who was very impressed. He said the cloth would be even more beautiful if woven in colors. A weaver called Akwasi Opoku-Agyeman experimented with tree bark dyes to create the basic kente colors: black, red, yellow, and green. Early kente cloth was exclusively royal—made for the king.

Locals use a strip loom to weave kente cloth.


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