Thursday, February 14, 2008

Adinkra Symbols Accordion Book

When I was thinking about hearts and Valentine's Day, I remembered that a couple of the adinkra symbols from Ghana are heart-shaped and how attached to the symbols I became when I included an adinkra paper cloth project in Multicultural Books To Make And Share. Here's some additional information from the book:

Adinkra cloths are made in Ghana. First made as mourning cloths, they came to be used for other occasions as well. Kings and rich people commissioned cloths to speak of their power. People embarking on a new venture, such as starting a business, might commission a cloth. Most cloths are printed, although some are appliqued. The stamps for printing are cut from a gourd. The black dye is a mixture made from the boiled bark of the badie tree and an iron-rich stone. The dye is called adinkra, which means farewell. The symbols used in printing have a long tradition and deep significance. Through the symbols, each cloth communicates information about the owner, living or dead. The symbols are so much a part of Ghanaian culture that they are often used by the government and clergy. The logo of the Standards Board in Ghana is the measuring rod, which stands for excellence and intolerance of imperfection.

I used one-half of the back panel of a grocery bag for the pages and the front panel of a cereal box for the covers. I covered the covers with paper cut from the other half of the grocery bag panel. You can use this pdf from Multicultural Books To Make And Share to make patterns to trace for your own adinkra symbols book. They are designed to be traced on a folded piece of paper, then cut and opened to form the complete pattern. I traced the patterns with pencil and then outlined and colored them with black marker. For a longer book, you can follow the directions for attaching sections in the directions for the Index Card Accordion.


Adinkra Symbols & Meanings
Extensive collection of adinkra symbols with information on meaning and in some cases images of the symbols being used in West Africa

Cool Planet: Oxfam's Site for Kids
Information on the history, how the cloths are made, the symbols, and a printmaking activity

Adinkra Resources
This website was created to accompany a book for educators. Of particular interest are the image pages which include cloths and printing blocks, production, and uses of the symbols.

The Talking Cloth by Rhonda Mitchell

African- American Amber visits her Aunt Phoebe whose house is full of things Amber's father calls junk and her aunt calls her "collection of life." Amber's favorite is an adinkra cloth from Ghana. There are descriptions of the cloth and the meaning of some of the symbols. Amber imagines the cloths she would make for her family.

Adapted from the February 2008 issue of Making Books Monthly
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Multicultural Books To Make And Share


Take a cultural journey around the world with sixteen bookmaking projects that work across the curriculum. This book makes it easy with accessible materials, hints for preparation, clear directions, and historical information.

Name Scroll
Learn about the development of the alphabet from Egyptian hieroglyphics with this simple scroll that uses pictures to write out a name.
Zulu Beadwork
Make a necklace or pendant with graph paper and learn about the symbolic language of beads in South Africa.

Wish Scroll from Ethiopia
Recycle a film container to make a wish scroll based on talismans made in Ethiopia for personal protection and cures.

Adinkra Cloth
Create a construction paper cloth for a historical person or book character based on adinkra cloths from Ghana.

Winter Count
Dakota Indians counted the years by winters and marked each winter with an image drawn on a buffalo skin. Use a brown grocery bag to make your own.

Time Line Accordion
Make an accordion book with a ribbon threaded through to act as a time line and learn about the books made by the Aztecs and Mayans.

Comic Book
Write and illustrate a comic book in this simple eight page book made from one piece of paper.

Curandero Book
This project is inspired by accordion books made by Otomi Indian healers in Mexico. Illustrate your book with cut-outs made from pieces of brown bags.

Palm Leaf Sequence Book
In India, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia, traditional books are made from palm leaves. Make your own palm leaf book from stiff paper.

Math Slat Book
Learn multiplication facts by making a slat book which was the first book form made in ancient China.

Seasons Accordion Book
Celebrate the seasons with this four page accordion book with a ribbon tie.

Book of Haiku
Sew a book with a side-stitched Asian binding and fill it with haiku and simple cut paper illustrations.

Rune Stone
The Vikings erected rune stones as memorials to the dead or announcements of the accomplishments of the living. Use the rune alphabet provided to make a stone for a family member, friend, historical figure, or fictional character.

Romans wrote notes in wooden books with wax covered pages. Make your own version with card stock and wax paper.

Write about a specific event in history or current events in a book modeled after the Newsbooks of Europe which were the forerunners of newspapers.

Medieval Book
Make a Medieval Book of Hours or Word Book with decorated foil covers and illuminated initials.

Click on the image for more information