Literal meaning

King of Adinkra symbols

Pronunciation of Adinkrahene


A symbol of leadership and charisma

Adinkrahene (Adinkra + ɔhene), literally “Adinkra king” or “king of the Adinkras.”

This symbol is reportedly the inspiration of the design of the other symbols. The elegant figure with three concentric circles is easy to draw and its abstract form connotes the importance of ideas and concepts, which are what Adinkra are about—they are visual representations of important concepts in Akan philosophy.

Akan proverbs on kings (ahene)

1. Ɔhene sua sɛ dɛn koraa a, baakofoɔ nsoa no

Literally: No matter how small a king is, he is not carried by one person.

2. Nea ɔpɛ sɛ obedi hene daakye no firi aseɛ sua som ansa

Literally: He who wants to become king in the future begins by learning how to serve.

Does Adinkrahene represent anything physical?

I like Adinkrahene for its simplicity and elegance. Its framework is basically a representation of concentric circles—a reasonably abstract conception.

However, it is not out of place to wonder if it was inspired by any object or phenomenon in nature since many Adinkra symbols have such origins.

Adinkrahene from ripples of water

Concentric circles from a drop of water. Could this be the inspiration for Adinkrahene?
Source: Life Is Color / Public Domain

Eglash, Bennett, Lachney, and Bulley observe that the idea for Adinkrahene may have come from the patterns made by ripples of water.

Adinkrahene in logos

Because of the highly desirable virtues Adinkrahene represents, I was expecting to find it in a lot more logos than I found.

What could explain this dearth of usage? Could it be because the symbol is considered too simple and its meaning cannot be easily discerned from its representation?

Adinkrahene on Ashesi University's seal

The seal of Ashesi University, featuring Adinkrahene, a symbol of excellence

Ashesi University, a private university in Ghana, uses Adinkrahene in its seal. The seal prominently features Ashesi’s logo in the middle of two concentric circles which form the rim. On the right side of the rim is Adinkrahene, which, for them, means “highest, best, or king, and is a symbol of excellence.”