Adinkra Symbols and Meanings
Adinkra are visual symbols with historical and philosophical significance originally printed on cloth which royals wore to important ceremonies. Originating from the Gyaman people of Ghana and la Côte d’Ivoire, the symbols have assumed global importance and are now found in logos, clothes, furniture, sculpture, earthenware pots, and many others.
Saturated with meaning, these symbols have come to symbolize the richness of Akan culture and serve as a shorthand for communicating deep truths in visual form. As an example, the fact that most universities in Ghana use at least one Adinkra symbol in their logo demonstrates the gravitas their use has come to symbolize.
List of Adinkra Symbols and Meanings
No. Symbol Name Meaning
1 Gye Nyame icon Gye Nyame Except God. A symbol expressing the omnipotence of God. Probably the most popular Adinkra symbol. It is featured on Ghana's largest-denomination banknote, the 200 cedi note.
2 Sankofa icon Sankofa Go back and get it. A symbol of the wisdom of learning from the past to build for the future. From the Akan proverb, "Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenkyiri," meaning, "It is not taboo to go back for what you forgot (or left behind)."
3 Sankofa icon Sankofa Another Sankofa symbol
4 Adinkrahene icon Adinkrahene King of the Adinkra symbols. A symbol for authority, leadership, and charisma. Also a symbol for qualities associated with kings. Adinkrahene is reportedly the inspiration for the design of the other symbols.
5 Dwennimmen icon Dwennimmen Ram's horns. A symbol of strength (in mind, body, and soul), humility, wisdom, and learning. This symbol features prominently in the logo of the University of Ghana, Ghana's first and largest university.
6 Funtumfunefu Denkyemfunefu icon Funtumfunefu Denkyemfunefu Conjoined crocodiles. A symbol of unity in diversity giving a common destiny; sharing; from the proverb, "Funtumfrafu denkyemfrafu, wowo yafunu koro nanso wonya biribi a wofom efiri se aduane no de no yete no wo menetwitwie mu," to wit, Funtumfrafu and Denkyemfrafu share a stomach but when they get something (food) they strive over it because the sweetness of the food is felt as it passes through the throat.
7 Nkyinkyim icon Nkyinkyim Twisting. A symbol representing the tortuous nature of life's journey.
8 Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan icon Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan Love does not lose its way home. Those led by love always end up in the right place.
9 Denkyem icon Denkyem Crocodile. A symbol of adaptability and cleverness.
10 Aban icon Aban Fortress (or castle). A symbol of strength, seat of power, authority, and magnificence
11 Abe Dua icon Abe Dua Palm tree. A symbol of wealth, resourcefulness, and self-sufficiency
12 Adwo icon Adwo Calmness. A symbol for peace, tranquility, and quiet
13 Agyindawuru icon Agyindawuru Agyin's gong. A symbol of faithfulness, alertness, and dutifulness. Designed to commemorate the faithfulness of one Agyin who was a dutiful servant and gong-beater of the Asantehene.
14 Akoben icon Akoben War horn. A symbol of a call to action, readiness to be called to action, readiness, and voluntarism
15 Akofena icon Akofena A sword of war (or the state ceremonial swords). A symbol of state authority, legality, the legitimized authority of a ruler, recognition of gallantry of heroic deeds. Ghana's coat of arms shows one of these ceremonial swords crossed with a linguist's staff in its top left quadrant.
16 Akoko Nan icon Akoko Nan The foot of a hen. A symbol for discipline coupled with care and nurturing; from the Akan proverb, “Akoko nan tia ba na enkum ba,” literally, “The foot of a hen steps on the child (chick) but it doesn't kill the child (chick).”
17 Akoma Ntoaso icon Akoma Ntoaso Joining of hearts. A symbol of agreement, togetherness and unity or a charter. An amplification of the concept of Akoma.
18 Akoma icon Akoma Heart. A symbol of love, goodwill, patience, faithfulness, fondness, endurance, and consistency.
19 Ananse Ntentan icon Ananse Ntentan Spider's web. A symbol of wisdom, craftiness, creativity, and the complexities of life. It is the web of Ananse, the crafty spider who is preeminent in African folklore.
20 Ani Bere A Enso Gya icon Ani Bere A Enso Gya No matter how red-eyed one becomes (i.e. how serious one becomes), his eyes do not spark flames. A symbol of patience, self-containment, self-discipline, and self-control.
21 Asase Ye Duru icon Asase Ye Duru The earth has weight. A symbol of providence and the divinity of Mother Earth.
22 Aya icon Aya Fern. A symbol of endurance, independence, defiance against difficulties, hardiness, perseverance, and resourcefulness.
23 Bese Saka icon Bese Saka Bunch of cola nuts. A symbol of affluence, power, abundance, plenty, togetherness, and unity
24 Bi Nka Bi icon Bi Nka Bi No one should bite another. A symbol of justice, fairplay, freedom, peace, forgiveness, unity, harmony, and the avoidance of conflict or strife.
25 Dame-Dame icon Dame-Dame Chequered. A symbol of craftiness, intelligence, and strategy.
26 Dono Ntoaso icon Dono Ntoaso The double dono; joined tension talking drum. A symbol of united action, alertness, goodwill, praise, rejoicing, and adroitness.
27 Dono icon Dono The tension talking drum. A symbol of appelation, praise, goodwill and rhythm.
28 Duafe icon Duafe Wooden comb. A symbol of feminine consideration or good feminine qualities such as patience, prudence, fondness, love, and care.
29 Eban icon Eban Fence. A symbol of safety, security, and love.
30 Epa icon Epa Handcuffs. A symbol of law and justice.
31 Ese ne Tekrema icon Ese ne Tekrema Teeth and tongue. A symbol of improvement, advancement, growth, the need for friendliness and interdependence.
32 Fafanto icon Fafanto Butterfly. A symbol of tenderness, gentleness, honesty, and fragility.
33 Fihankra icon Fihankra An enclosed or secured compound house. A symbol of brotherhood, safety, security, completeness, and solicarity.
34 Fofo icon Fofo A flowering plant (bidens pilosa). A symbol of warning against jealousy and covetousness.
35 Gyawu Atiko icon Gyawu Atiko The back of Gyawu's head. A symbol of valor and bravery. Used interchangeably with the Kwatakye Atiko symbol
36 Hwehwemudua icon Hwehwemudua Measuring rod (rod of investigation) or rule. A symbol of excellence, superior quality, perfection, knowledge, and critical examination.
37 Hye Wo Nhye icon Hye Wo Nhye Burn you won't burn (fig. unburnable). A symbol of toughness and imperishability; also a symbol of permanence.
38 Kramo Bone Amma Yeanhu Kramo Pa icon Kramo Bone Amma Yeanhu Kramo Pa The bad muslim makes it difficult for a good one to be recognized. A symbol of warning against deception and hypocrisy.
39 Kuronti ne Akwamu icon Kuronti ne Akwamu Kuronti and Akwamu. A symbol of democracy, sharing ideas, taking council
40 Kwatakye Atiko icon Kwatakye Atiko The back of Kwatakye's head. A symbol of valor and bravery. This symbol is also called Gyawu Atiko. It is said to be a hairstyle of Kwatakye, a war captain of old Asante.
41 Mako icon Mako Peppers. A symbol of inequality and uneven development; from the proverb "All peppers on the same plant don't ripen at the same time"
42 Menso Wo Kenten icon Menso Wo Kenten I am not carrying your basket. A symbol of industry, self-reliance, and economic self-determination
43 Mframadan icon Mframadan Well-ventilated house. A symbol of resilience and readiness to face the vicissitudes of life
44 Mmere Dane icon Mmere Dane Time chanegs (times change). A symbol of the temporariness of good times
45 Mpatapo icon Mpatapo Pacification knot. A symbol of pacification, forgiveness, and reconciliation
46 Mpuannum icon Mpuannum Five tufts (of hair). A symbol of loyalty and priestly office
47 Nea Onnim icon Nea Onnim He who does not know; from the proverb, "When he who does not know learns, he gets to know."
48 Nkonsonkonson icon Nkonsonkonson Chain. A symbol of unity, community
49 Nsaa icon Nsaa A type of woven cloth. A symbol of excellence, genuineness, and authenticity
50 Nsoromma icon Nsoromma Star (child of the heavens). A symbol of faith and the belief in patronage and dependency on a supreme being
51 Nteasee icon Nteasee Understanding. A symbol for understanding and cooperation
52 Nyame Biribi Wo Soro icon Nyame Biribi Wo Soro God, there is something in the heavens. A symbol of hope and inspiration
53 Nyame Dua icon Nyame Dua God's tree (sacred stump). A symbol of God's presence and protection
54 Nyame Nwu Na Mawu icon Nyame Nwu Na Mawu God won't die for me to die; a symbol expressing the immortality of the human soul
55 Okuafo Pa icon Okuafo Pa Good farmer. A symbol of diligence, hard work, and entrepreneurship
56 Osram ne Nsoromma icon Osram ne Nsoromma Moon and star. A symbol of faithfulness, fondness, harmony, benevolence, love, loyalty, and femininity
57 Owuo Atwedee icon Owuo Atwedee Ladder of death. A symbol of the certainty and universality of death
58 Sepow icon Sepow Executioner's knife. A symbol of justice
59 Tamfo Bebre icon Tamfo Bebre The enemy will suffer; the enemy will stew in his own juice. A symbol for ill-will, jealousy, and envy
60 UAC Nkanea icon UAC Nkanea UAC lights. A symbol of technological advancement
61 Wawa Aba icon Wawa Aba Seed of the wawa tree. A symbol of hardiness, toughness, and perseverance
62 Woforo Dua Pa A icon Woforo Dua Pa A When you climb a good tree. A symbol of support for good causes



  1. The meaning of the symbol was taken from The Adinkra Dictionary by W. Bruce Willis.