Legend has it that two men from Ghana named Koragu and his friend Ameyaw were out in the forest checking their traps, when they happened upon a spider web. The spider web was beautifully made with unique designs that sparkled like a moonbeam. The men decided they wanted to study how the web was made so they tried to take it. However, when the men tried to undo the web it collapsed and broke apart. The men would later go back into the forest and find a large spider weaving yet another unique web. The men watched the spider weave in a dance-like motion. Koragu and Ameyaw realized that the spider was showing them how to weave the beautiful patterns.
Using what they learned, the men created a new woven cloth kente-nwen-ntoma which is known as a kente cloth.
There are many different versions of this African tale of how the Ghana weavers were inspired to create the kente cloth. The version I used is from the book:
Originally worn by African royalty, the kente cloth is now available for anyone to wear. The kente cloth is woven using a special horizontal loom. The cloth is woven in four-inch narrow strips that are sewn together. Traditional kente cloths were black and white, but weavers would later begin hand-dyeing the cloths. Each cloth has a name. The names are often inspired by proverbs, historical events, or individual achievements.
We will be creating a paper representation of a Kente cloth. Kits will be available via curbside starting February 1st. The Main Library hours are Monday through Thursday 9am-7pm and Friday 9am-5pm.
6 yellow strips of paper
7 blue strips of paper
5 green strips of paper
9 red strips of paper
8 brown strips of paper
Not included but need: Black marker and glue
The directions included below are really to help with the weaving portion of the craft. When it comes to how you want to color coordinate or draw on your paper kente cloth is solely up to you. Note: the colors I used are slightly different from what comes in the kit.
Step 1: Place blue and yellow strips of paper down in the order you would like. I chose to alternate the two colors. Make sure that the strips are close together, but not overlapping. Glue brown paper strip down to the edges of the blue and yellow strips.
Step 2: Take a red strip of paper and weave through the yellow and blue paper by going over the blue strip then under the yellow strip. Continue to go over and under until you reach the end. Take the next color of paper and begin to weave. When weaving this strip start by first going under the blue strip then over the yellow until you reach the end.
Step 3: Continue weaving using steps above. Take the last strip of paper and instead of weaving glue it down to hold the other strips in place. Trim off the excess on the sides. There should be about an inch of paper left from the yellow and blue strips of paper to create the fringes.
Step 4: Use a black marker to draw designs onto your kente cloth. Use the black marker to also draw squiggly lines onto the hangover of the blue and yellow strips of paper then cut each strip vertically twice. If you need some inspiration or want to use traditional designs see charts below.
Share your designs with us on social media and follow along with us as we continue to celebrate Black History Month!