Showing posts from January, 2011

Of Ends And Beginnings

By Marguerite Theophil, The Times of India, Ranchi (Saturday, January 1, 2011)

A gift of a bracelet from Ghana at first looks like a series of linked hearts, but on closer inspection i notice a stylised bird. I learn that this is the Sankofa, a mythical bird from their culture that flies forward while looking backward, with an egg held in its mouth.

The word Sankofa derives from the Akan people, a West African ethnic group that today resides in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The Akan, over centuries, developed a highly artistic and communicative system of ideographic and pictographic symbols, each representing a specific concept, proverb or saying rooted in the Akan experience. These symbols can be found used extensively in indigenous textiles, metal and wood work, jewellery and architecture, too.

The older African religions had no sacred texts. Their beliefs were handed down mostly orally through proverbs and stories or through pictorial symbols. A proverb from which the concept an…