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For several decades, the Adinkra symbols of Ghana have appeared over a wide range of motifs in North American society. An Internet inquiry using “Adinkra symbols” as a search term is likely to return as many as 160,000 hits. Although the symbols may have artistic and entertainment value—as seen at tattoo parlors, jewelry stores, and in architectural designs—their relevance in contemporary times is based on an understanding that they are rich sources of Akan history, social analysis, and criticism. This entry presents the historical background of the Adinkra symbols and describes the cultural bridge between Ghana and North America they have helped to forge.

Adinkra Symbolism

Adinkra symbols are elements of an ideographic and pictographic writing system that has existed in Ghanaian society ...

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