- Museum number
Adinkra-stamp; carved from gourd; two figures on stamp, each figure showing four spirals around diamond at centre; eight pieces of wood stuck into back of stamp, joined together at opposite end and wrapped in white cotton cloth to make handle.
- Production date
Height: 11 centimetres
Width: 11 centimetres
Depth: 6 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Design is called "Dwan Mmen" in Twi (meaning "the horn of a ram"). The ram derives its strength from the heart and not the horns.
See Core, Herbert M. and Ross, Doran. The Arts of Ghana. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1977, pp. 44-45: "Several kinds [of adinkra cloth] exist, each named according to its colour. The three most common funerary adinkra are the dark brown kuntunkuni, the brick red kobene, and the black birisi. The adinkra designation comes from the technology of stamping motifs on dyed cloth or from linear designs drawn on the cloth with a comb-like tool. A cloth can be called adinkra only if it has these patterns, regardless of color and context of use. Many adinkra cannot properly be called mourning cloths. Their bright or light backgrounds classify them as kwasiada ("Sunday") adinkra, meaning fancy cloths unsuitable for funerary contexts but appropriate for most festive occasions or even daily wear."
See Core, Herbert M. and Ross, Doran. The Arts of Ghana. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1977, pp. 45: "Stamp designs are carved from dried calabash. The professional carver, once the motif is completed, attaches a short handle to the carved stamp, which he then sells to the decorator. The dye used in stamping comes from the bark of a tree (called badie by the Asante) which is boiled with a ferrous stone or iron slag (etia) producing a black mixture that leaves a much-appreciated glossy surface. Before actual stamping begins the cloth is subdivided into several square or rectangular fields. A series of parallel lines is drawn on the cloth. These lines are drawn either with small sticks one at a time or with a comb-like form that produces two or more parallel lines. Within each field a single stamp is repeated in rows; occasionally more than one design will appear in a field. The parallel lines dividing the cloth are also sometimes filled in with stamped designs producing a subtle bordering effect..."
p. 46: "The meaning of adinkra symbols has long been a source of controversy...Some are explicit representations of these [natural or man-made] objects: a gun, ladder, war horn, donno drum, comb, and sword. Others are more abstract, yet still having suggestive elements...Nearly every adinkra design has a visual relationship to its name. Typical Akan patterns of nomenclature are followed, with frequent references to ceremonial objects, plants, animals, hairstyles, and architecture."
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2015-2016 16 Oct - 16 Feb, London, British Library, West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Fieldwork collection made jointly by staff from the University of Ghana (Department of Archaeology) and the British Museum (Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas) in 2006 as part of a collaborative research and exhibition project.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number