Know the Differences Between Dashiki vs. KenteMany people are curious to know more about African fashion. Many of them may also not see the difference between a dashiki versus kente cloth. More and more people today want to express their pride for melanin, and there is also a massive movement for many African-Americans to repatriate the motherland. Both types of designs are an excellent way to show black pride while representing the unique history and revolutionary politics that are symbolic of these West African garments.
Originating in the Western part of the continent as a functional work garment for men, the word “dashiki” comes from the Yoruba and Hausa languages. This garment was initially designed for men to wear in any heat conditions and was commonly worn in the form of large robes. This is unmistakably an African design, and its symbolic significance came to fruition thousands of miles from where its designs first originated.
History of the Culture
People of African descent whose ancestors were put in chains to be shipped off to North America carried the torch to keep the designs intact. This fashion style became particularly evident during the 1960s and early 1970s during the Black Panther Movement and the US Civil Rights Movement. These two historical events are responsible for giving the design its political symbolism.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Black Americans protested racial injustice, and the dashiki fashion and style evolved beyond functionality and as a fad fashion trend. It also became an article that was used as a means of rejecting Western cultural norms and serve as an emblem of black pride. Dysheekie is an illustration of the beauty of Blackness and was often worn in conjunction with an afro hairstyle or worn while raising fists in protest.
This traditional African design continues to be a significant influence on self-identity. Principles that were taught by famous civil rights leaders like Malcolm X and groups like the Black Panthers more often seen wearing styles which also influenced the culture. These leaders wore these designs while influencing the designs to become something greater than itself since it was something that was exclusively worn by black people. At the time, this was very symbolic since, for hundreds of years, the majority of black people were denied the opportunity to embrace anything that represented their culture or African heritage.
This fashion is now a universal design that is often seen especially during African Black History Month. Sales typically peak for this design during the month of February since this month is designated as the month for black history. It is also used when companies or organizations host African-themed parties or events.
The dashiki-fashion of today is worn to spread the message that being black is beautiful. This style also defies the traditional Western dressing requirements of wearing a coat and tie. The culture of the dashiki continues to be worn by Americans, Africans, and people of many different faiths and cultures. Prints are often worn as regular clothing and always stay in-style due to the vibrant colors used in a variety of designs.
The Culture of Dashiki-Fashion
Many African people used to believe that this fashion culture is exclusive only to black people or Africans. Some people may think it is not to be worn by Americans because the clothing culture signifies victory over views and opinions of the dominant Caucasian society in America.
However, times have changed, and now it is a famous worldwide culture, and people from all over the world wear its designs. Numerous trends to include more formal attire, robes, suits, outfits, backpacks, funeral colors, as well as prints for special occasions can be found.
This design will always maintain an underlying cultural significance because of its powerful message. It is worn to acknowledge melanin pride, and it gives an impression to others that the wearer consciously chose to wear a fashion piece based on something that is recognized as being uniquely African.
In what is now known as modern-day Ghana, Kente cloth first emerged in the African West, and it is tied in with the history of the Ashanti Empire. This West African Kingdom dominated the area during the 17th century. The Ashanti people are members of the Akan people, and they speak a dialect which is either Ashanti or Akan. The word “kente” comes from the Ashanti or Akan dialect and it means basket. Also known as nwentoma, this means woven cloth in the Akan dialect.
History of Kente Cloth
Kente cloth comes in a variety of different colors, designs, and patterns. Each of them has their own symbolism and meanings, yet reflect the history of the Ashanti people. It symbolizes the beginning and rise of various Ashanti kingdoms and also leads up to the development of the slave trade and contemporary Ghananese life.
There is a legend relating to the beginning of how this called began, and according to the Shanti legend, there were two farmers who came across a spider that was spinning a web. The farmers were so amazed at the beauty of the spider’s web that they returned to their homes with eagerness to try and replicate their own design of the web.
At first, they wove a cloth made of white, then made a black and white one, then made cloth from the fibers of a raffia tree. The fabric was later presented to the Ashanti Asantehene which translated to mean king. Ruling from 1701 to 1717, King Nana Osei Tutu was the first royal Ashanti monarch to receive a woven Kente cloth.
Throughout the centuries, Kente cloth evolved into a product that was commonly traded along global trade routes which stretched to Asia and Europe. It also has a strong history related to the slave trade because of the Ashanti people who were enslaved along the West coast of Africa.
Ashanti slaves were transported to the New World in high numbers, and they created new communities that often continued or adapted traditions from the old world. One of these traditions was weaving cloth in basic designs. Unique in its perfection and intricacy, Kente cloth employs a wide variety of colors that are used in the patterns.
One factor that most people do not know, which makes this fabric so unique, is that proverbs and stories are attached to each design. These designs also reveal a better understanding of the Ashanti people and their use of this cloth.
In addition to having multiple meanings, patterns are categorized by their association with the Ashanti proverb it expresses. Prints can also have anecdotal mediums such as symbolizing the need for unity in diversity, internal conflicts, or reconciliation.
Today, Kente academic stoles are often worn as a symbol of ethnic pride and continue to be a common tradition among historically black Greek letter sororities and fraternities. One symbolic ceremony that is held among African-American students is called “Donning of the Kente.” During this ceremony, Kente stoles are presented to graduates.
The Culture of Kente Fashion
Kente cloth is now commonly used to make clothes for all sorts of people from all over the world. It has become famous internationally due to many celebrities in the US and other countries who have adopted the style and have been seen wearing the cloth in various designs.
Of all African wears, these two designs are the most appreciated and unique of all. The rejuvenation of both styles started in recent years among celebrities around the globe. Thanks to the new trends these stars have started, whole new patterns have been created as millions of fans see legendary celebrities wearing outfits with these African designs.
Dashiki vs. Kente
Of all African textiles, Kente is best known in the continent of Africa. The relationship between the two fabrics is interwoven, and both designs have been employed to modernize either style. There are now more varieties than ever when compared to the ancient type that was first designed long ago.
To distinguish the two designs by origin, Kente is made in the Akan lands which comprises the Ashanti Kingdom (Bonwire, Sakora Wonoo, Adanwomase, Ntonso in the Kwabre areas) in addition to other African societies.
Dashiki-style fashion is more common with the Adire and Ofi material which originates from West Africa. The style had a big break in the international market in recent years mainly because of designers and celebrities who modernized the style.
When it comes to fashion, both designs can be replicated to be attractive, colorful, and appealing to the eye. As a result, these designs have given rise to competition among various designers who strive to create more practical wear using more style, logic, and imagination. African designs are naturally incorporated to satisfy these reasons. Also, it creates a new trend for fashion lovers to follow no matter where they live in the world.