Kente is ceremonial African clothing created by hand weaving strips of cloth on a loom and sewing them together to create larger pieces of cloth. It's native to Ghana, but kente is also considered to be a pan-African tradition. Your child can make her own brightly-patterned kente cloth out of paper and colorful markers. She will exercise her fine motor skills to draw and color geometric shapes. Then she'll cut and paste strips of “cloth” together onto a piece of poster board for easy displaying. This art activity is a great way for your child to explore different cultures and celebrate African heritage in honor of Black History Month.
What You Do:
- Go to the library or use the computer to search for samples of what various kente cloth designs looks like. Have your child select one that she wants to use for this project.
- Talk with your child about the significance of kente cloths, including how they are made and what the different colors on a kente cloth symbolize (see below).
- On the paper, help your child measure and mark four 3” x 11” strips. Have her cut along the lines.
- She now has four strips of paper on which to create her kente design.
- Have your child trace the design of the kente cloth that she has chosen.
- If your child needs assistance with the geometric patterns, first draw the outline in pencil and then ask her to trace the lines in marker and color them in to match the sample cloth she has chosen.
- Once she has colored all four sheets, ask her to glue them onto the poster board, leaving a two-inch border at the top. Within that border, your child can write her name and title it “My Kente Cloth.”
Symbolic Meanings of the Colors in Kente Cloth:
- Black – maturation, intensified spiritual energy
- Blue – peacefulness, harmony and love
- Green – vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
- Gold – royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
- Grey – healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
- Maroon – the color of mother earth; associated with healing
- Pink – associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
- Purple – associated with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
- Red – political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
- Silver – serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
- White – purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
- Yellow – preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility