Adinkra Symbols and their meaning (English and Twi)

Below is a table displaying in alphabetical order some of the old and new Adinkra and other cultural symbols of the Akan. They have been arranged by names in Twi, literal translation in English, significance and proverbial meaning where available.

Symbol/Name in AkanLiteral translationSymbolic MeaningProverbial
expression
AbanFenceStrength and
authority.
Abe duaPalm treeWealth
Self-sufficiency
Toughness
Vitality
Nipa nye abe dua na ne ho ahyia ne ho.

The human being is not like the palm that is self sufficient.

Nnua nyinaa bewu agya abe.

All trees will wither safe the palm tree.
Adinkrahene newAdinkra King.
Chief of all the Adinkra designs;
forms the basis of adinkra printing
Symbol of greatness, charisma and leadership

This symbol is said to have played an inspiring role in the designing of other symbols. it signifies the importance of playing a leadership role.
adwoPeace.Peace/CalmnessOhene nya ahontenafo pa a, ne bere so dwo

When the king has good counselors, then he will have a peaceful reign
akofenaRoyal/
ceremonial
sword.
Gallantry
Valour
Bravery
Akofena kunini ko a, wobo a fena kye no safohene

The great warrior always has a royal sword of rest even when he retires.
akobenWar Horn
The sound of
Ako-ben is a
battle cry
Call to arms
Readiness and
Preparedness for action or battle.
akobenWar Horn
(another version)
The sound of
Ako-ben is a
battle cry
Call to arms
Readiness and
preparedness
for action or
battle.
Vigilance
akoko nanThe hen’s
feet
Parenthood.
Care. Tenderness.
Protection.
Parental admonition is not intended to harm the child. (Parental discipline.)
akoma ntoasoExtension of the heart.
Understanding
Agreement or charter Unity
ananseSpider webWisdom
Creativity
ani bereSeriousnessDiligence
Perseverance
Ani bere a, nso gya,anka mani abere koo.

Seriousness does not show fiery eyes; else you would see my face all red.
asaase y3 duruThe earth
has weight
Divinity of the
earth
Providence
Power/Authority
Wealth Might
Tumi nyina ne asase

All power manates from the earth.

Asase ye duru sen epo

The earth is heavier than the sea.
bese sakaSack of cola
nuts
Power
Abundance affluence
Togetherness
and unity
(agriculture and trade bring people
together)
bi nka biBite not one another
Peace
Harmony
Caution against strife and provocation
birii bi wo suroThere is something in the heavens
Hope.
Reliance on
God for inspiration.
Nyame, biribi wo soro, na ma emeka me nsa.

God, there is something in heaven, let it get to me.
boa meHelp me to help you
Interdependence
Cooperation
Helping one another
duafeWooden
comb
Feminine virtue.
Everlasting love.
dwammiRam’s hornConcealment
Humility & Strength
Wisdom & learning
Dwannini ye asisie a, ode n’akorana na…

It is the hart and not the horns that leads a ram to bully
ebanFence/fort or
castle Representing
Fenced homes
Protection
security
safety
fortress
epaHandcuffsSlavery
Equality
Law & Justice
Onii a ne pa da wonsa no, na n’akoa ne wo

You are a slave to the one whose handcuffs you are wearing.
eseThe teeth and the tongueFriendship
interdependence
Advancement
Progress Strength in unity
fofooFofoo plant (A yellow flowered plant)
Jealosy
Envy
Se die fofoo pe ne se gyinantwi abo bidie.

The Fofoo plant’s wish is that the gyinantwi seeds
should turn black.
funtunThe tree/altar of the
funtunfunafu. (version of the Siamese crocodile)
Need for unity when there is the same destiny
funtSiamese Twin crocodiles joined at the stomach.
Democracy and
oneness irrespective of cultural differences
Funtumfunafu
denkyemfunafu, won afuru bom, nso woredidi a na woreko.

They share one stomach and yet they fight over food
gyawu atikoSymbol drawn by Gyawu, who was a chief of BantamaBravery
Valour
Fearlessness
Leadership
gye nyameExcept God.Omnipotence and immortality of God
hye wonyeThat which cannot be burnt
Imperishability
Endless
Forgiveness
Toughness
Hye a wonnhye

That which cannot be burnt
kae meRemember me.
Loyalty
Faithfulness
kete paGood bedGood marriage.
Love and faithfulness
kontireState eldersReliance.
Democracy
Tikoro nko agyina

One head does not make up council.
krapaSanctity,
Pure in heart
Sanctity
Purity
Krapa te se okra okyiri fi

Sanctity, like cats, abhors filth.
kramo boneThe BadWarning against
hypocrisy
Kramo bone amma yennhu kramo pa

We cannot tell the good from the bad because of Pretence and hypocrisy.
kwatakyeHair of the Hero Kwatakye
Valour
Bravery
Leadership
mmusuyideThat which
removes ill luck or evil
Good fortune
Sanctity
Spiritual
Strength
nea opeDo to others
the things you want them to do to for you
JusticeNea ope se nkrofoo ye ma wo no, ye saa ara ma won.

Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.
nkyin kyimZigzag/twisting
Playing many
roles.
(Dynamism)
Initiative
Toughness
Adaptability
Resoluteness
Obra kwan ye
nkyinkyimiie

Life’s path is full of ups and downs; twists and turns.
nkonsonChain linksHuman
relations
Unity
nkontimHair of the Queen’s servant
Loyalty
Service
nsromaThe Star Child of
God/child of the heavens
Reflection of God faith in God
Guardian ship.
nsaaType of hand wovencloth/Blanket
Excellence
Authenticity
Genuineness
Nea onim nssa na oto n’ago

The one who knows the nssa blanket is willing to buy it even when it is old
ntesieI have heard and kept it
Knowledge
Wisdom
Nyansa bun mu ne mate masie

Deep wisdom comes out of listening and keeping what is heard.
nyameSince god Exist For God’s sake By God’s
Grace.
God’s grace.
Faith in God.
Nyame nti mi nnwe wura

By God’s grace, I will not eat leaves to survive
nyame nwuGod never
dies; therefore I shall not die
Life after death
odenkyemThe crocodile.
PrudenceOdenkyem da nsuo mu,nso onnhome nsuo, ohome mframa

The crocodile lives in water but does breathe air and not water.
okuafo paGood farmerHardwork
Entrepreneurship
Industry
productivity
Okuafoo pa ne obi a oye nsiyefoo, ono na ose : w’afuo so a, woye ne nyinaa.

The good and industrious farmer says: No matter how big your farm is you
tend it all.
onyame aniwaGod’s eyeOmnipresence of God
Onyakopon aniwa hu
asumu asem biara.

God’s eye seees all secrets.
osramThe moonPatience and
understanding
Osram mmfiti preko nntwareman.

It takes the moon some time to go round the earth.
owuo atwedieLadder of death.
Death, the ultimate fate of man.

Mortal nature of man.

Fate
Owu atwedee obaako nforo.

All men shall climb the ladder of death.
pempiaseReadinessReadiness/
Preparedness
Strength and unity.
Pempamsie se, bebebre ahooden ne koroye.

The many has strength only in unity.
sankofaReturn and get it.

Learning from the
past.
You can always correct your mistakes.

Wisdom
Using past experiences to
build the future.

Better late than never
Se wo were fi na wo sankofa a yennkyi.

It is not a taboo to return to fetch something you
forgot earlier.
anoda sankofaReturn and get it.

Learning from the past
You can always
correct your
mistakes.

Wisdom
Using past
experiences to
build the future.

Better late than
never
Se wo were fi na wo sankofa a yennkyi.

It is not a taboo to return to fetch something you
forgot earlier.
tumiPower is like an egg
Delicacy of
political power,
Fragility of
democracy,
Restraint
Tumi te se kosua, woso mu den a, epae; na se woanso mu yie nso a, efiri wo nsa bo famu ma epae.

Power is as fragile as an egg, when held too tightly it might break; if it is held
too loosely, it might fall and break.
dua paWhen you climb a good tree
Support
Cooperation
Encouragement
Wuforo dua pa a na ye pia wo.

He who climbs a good tree is encouraged/
supported.

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