The Kente cloth is a hand woven Asante tribe ceremonial cloth. The Asante people live in Ghana and some parts of Ivory coast.
It comes in numerous colours, designs and sizes and is worn during special social and religious occasions.
The term "Kente" is derived from the word "Kenten" which means a basket. The original Kente fabric weavers used raffia fibers to weave cloths that looked like a basket, often refered to as 'Kenten ntoma' meaning basket cloth.
The original name of the cloth was 'nwontoma' which means a cloth hand woven on a loom. Many variations of the fabric are woven by various tribes in Ghana and to some degree in other parts of Africa.
In its cultural context of use, Kente is more than just a cloth as it represents social values, history, political thought, ethics and philosophy. Originally it was used only by royalty and limited to special functions.
Each cloth has a name and a meaning derived from African proverbs, achievements, moral values and literature to name a few. There are numerous designs, each with its own name and meaning.
The Kente cloth has achieved international recognition in recent times and with the impact of modern day technology and socio-economic change, it now transcends cultural, ethnic and national boundaries.
It is used widely in graduations, marriages, child naming ceremonies and as clothing accesories.