Paper Weaving

Students will use strips of paper to simulate Kente Weaving.  The focus for this project is color and pattern.

examples of kente cloth

Kente cloth has its origin with the Ashanti Kingdom, and was adopted by people in Ghana and many other West African counties.  The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold designs.  It is an Ashanti royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans.  It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Asante. Ashantis refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth.

Symbolic meanings of the colors in Kente cloth:[3]

  • black—maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue—peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green—vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • gold—royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
  • grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
  • maroon—the color of mother earth; associated with healing
  • pink—assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple—assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • red—political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
  • silver—serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
  • white—purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
  • yellow—preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility


  • 50 pieces, assorted colors, of 12″x18″ construction paper cut into strips (See Preparation for specific instructions on how to cut the strips)
  • 24 black markers
  • solid color yarn
  • scissors (in classroom)
  • glue sticks


  1. Cut 3/4″ strips length-wise (18″) from 25 pieces of the construction paper.
  2. Cut 3/4″ strips width-wise (12″) from 25 pieces of the construction paper.
  3. 24 – 3 yard lengths of yarn, one for each student
  4. Gather the rest of your supplies and head to the classroom.
  5. Once the projects are complete, please return any unused strips to the TAP room for other classes to use.

What to do:

1) Talk a little about what Kenti cloth is using the information above.  Explain to students that they will be weaving with paper.

2) Distribute the Strips–each student can choose their own colors, but will need 5 different colors of strips, 13 long strips and 16 short strips:

  • Long strips: 7 of one color and 6 of another color
  • Short strips: 4 of one color and 6 each of two other colors

3) Play the following video and follow the instructions.

For the Gallery:

This project will not be displayed in the gallery.  Please consult with your teacher what they’d like you to do with the finished projects.




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