Adinkrahene Symbol, Meaning And Significance

Adinkrahene Symbol, Meaning And Significance


Literal meaning

The literal meaning of Adinkrahene is “King of Adinkra (symbols).”


Adinkrahene is a symbol of leadership and charisma.

Its etymology is Adinkra + ɔhene, that is, Adinkra + king, giving “Adinkra king” or “king of the Adinkras.”

This symbol is reportedly the inspiration for the design of the other symbols. Its simple yet abstract design, consisting of three concentric circles emphasizes the importance of ideas and abstract concepts–the subject of Adinkra which 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?

Though Adinkrahene‘s simplicity and elegance is noteworthy and it is not hard to imagine how it could have been conjured up without reference to any particular physical object, it is not out of place to wonder if it was inspired by an object or phenomenon in nature just like many other Adinkra symbols.


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?


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.”