Walking into the Bonwire Kente Weaving Association center is like discovering the holy grail.
Lining the walls from floor to ceiling are folded kente cloths with all variety of bright colors and different patterns, each one with its own proverbial meaning. “The wealthy make many friends,” says one in its patterns and colors. But your eyes cannot rest long on the finished cloths. Instead, the clacking of some 20 looms in the middle of the room draw your attention to the weavers hard at work.
The photos below show the process of producing Kente. The first few, though, show the exact spot in the forest where the folktale of the anansi originated. Legend has it that hunters stumbled upon spiders under these trees and modeled the weaving pattern after the spiders’ web and body movements. You can see here, in the weaving center, the weavers create long strips of narrow cloth with intricate designs, using their hands and feet. Each design has a specific meaning, to communicate messages to people. After the strips are finished, they lay them out to stitch together a wide piece of cloth. Once they’re confident that the strips are aligned properly, they sew the strips together. You can see below some examples of finished cloths. The last photo is us with the queen mother of Bonwire, who we interviewed in Kumasi.