The Significance of Adinkra Symbols in Our Jewelry Designs

Adinkra means "to mark," and is also interpreted as "to teach or pass on," and the symbols have been used for centuries to convey messages and communicate ideas. The story behind these beautiful symbols goes back thousands of years, with the fable stating that an Akan warrior king summoned the symbol down from the heavens on a golden stool. 

The Adinkra symbols are a visual representation of the many cultural values and beliefs of the Akan people. They represent concepts such as good luck, protection, prosperity and connecting with culture.


Significance of Adinkra Symbols

Adinkra symbols are used to convey important messages. Each symbol has a meaning and can be used to express something that you want to say.
For example, if you're looking for protection from evil spirits or bad luck, then the symbol of the eye (asobe santann) will do just that! If you want something good in your life (like love), then the symbol for linked hearts (akoma ntoso) will help with that too. There are many other symbols with different meanings depending on what message they convey; some are even used as prayers!



The benefits of wearing adinkra jewelry include:

Good Luck - The most common symbol is a single pawpaw leaf that represents peace and harmony between people. It's believed that if you wear this symbol it will bring you good fortune in all aspects of your life including lovehealth and family relationships

Protection - The Anansi Spider is said to be able to protect its wearer from evil spirits or bad luck by hiding them under his webbing until they pass safely by

Prosperity - Bese Saka (sack of cola nuts) represents wealth and abundance because cola nuts were once used as a form of currency in ancient Ghana. 



Symbolism of Common Adinkra Symbols

Adinkra symbols have a rich history, and they can be incorporated into your jewelry designs to create beautiful pieces that are meaningful to you. Here are some popular Adinkra symbols and how to choose the right one for your design: 

Sankofa: This symbol represents the ability to learn from past mistakes and make better decisions going forward. It's also used as an encouragement for people who are struggling with something difficult or challenging in life; it reminds us that we can always improve ourselves by taking advantage of opportunities presented to us along the way. Sankofa is represented with two different symbols, the more recognisable of the two is the backwards facing bird.  


                                         Sankofa Adinkra Symbol 1  Sankofa Adinkra Symbol 2


Gye Nyame: This symbol means "I am not afraid" or "I have no fear." It represents strength and courage through adversity--something everyone needs when facing challenges!

                                                 Gye Nyame Adinkra Symbol


Adinkrahene: This one represents leadership and greatness and is considered the foundation of all adinkra symbols - also referred to as the King of all the symbols, and featuring the Akan word for king "ohene". A new favourite of SAHMANI, we're working on new pieces to add to our Volta Collection. The pieces are called "Inner Circle" and you can shop some early pieces in our sample sale.

                                              Adinrkahene adinkra symbol


Our Process for Designing Adinkra Symbol Jewelry

At SAHMANI, many clients come to us already having some knowledge of adinkra symbols and so ask us to incorporate their favourites in to bespoke pieces. At the design stage we will advise on configuration and size (some symbols like "Aya" with its curved branches work better with slightly larger sizes in order to keep all the detail, for example. We can of course conduct research using our existing knowledge and historic references to advise on symbols with meanings that suit a particular occasion or celebration.

When designing for our collection pieces, we generally choose a mix of uplifting and encouraging symbols which are considered universally positive and inspiring. From single symbols (like our spine earrings), or multiple symbols (like our signature Sahmani Charm Bangle, meaning is at the heart of the design. 

Adinkra symbols are a powerful way to express yourself and your culture. The process of making Adinkra jewelry is very important to us and we consider ourselves stewards of the culture. We love to bring meaning into your life through the creation of something beautiful. 

The Benefits of Wearing Adinkra Symbols Jewelry

Adinkra symbols are a powerful form of communication that can be used to express your beliefs and values. The most popular Adinkra symbols are thought to bring good luck, protection and prosperity to the wearer. They also connect you with your culture as they are an integral part of the Ghanaian people's identity.

Adinkra jewelry is stylish accessory that makes you stand out from the crowd while making a statement about who you are and where you come from.



Want to learn more about Adinkra symbols? Here is a short list of books written on the subject:


  1. "The Adinkra Dictionary: A Visual Primer on the Language of Adinkra Symbols" by W. Bruce Willis * (our favourite on the list - we have a copy of this in the SAHMANI library but its unfortunately out of print.
  2. "Adinkra Symbols of West Africa: A Guide to the Timeless Wisdom of the Adinkra" by Wisdom P. Kojo Agbey
  3. "Adinkra: An Afrocentric Coloring Book of Adinkra Symbols" by R. Nicole Sharp
  4. "Adinkra: Ghanaian Symbols, Power and Identity" by Peter Adler Kofi
  5. "Adinkra Symbols and Meanings: The Complete Guide" by Yaw Dwomoh-Agyemang
  6. "Adinkra Symbols: The Language of African Symbols and Their Meanings" by Akua Ofori-Boateng
  7. "Adinkra Cloth and Symbolism" by Robert Sutherland Rattray
  8. "Adinkra Symbols: Ancient Symbols of Ghana" by Kwesi Owusu
  9. "Adinkra Symbols: A Guide to the Adinkra Symbols of West Africa" by Anansi Press
  10. "Adinkra Symbols of Ghana: The Significance and Meaning" by Gifty Djokotoe.