Watson (n.d) describes Symbols as a representation of something other than what they actually are. Generally, they are based on conventionally agreed upon meanings, but unlike signs, which usually stand for something concrete, symbols usually stand for something less visible or tangible than the symbol itself.

The civilization of Egypt was symbolically oriented to a degree rarely equaled by other cultures. It was through symbols (hieroglyphics) that the Egyptians represented and affirmed many of their ideas, beliefs and attitudes regarding the nature of life, death, the supernatural and reality. (Watson n.d)

Symbols often depict aspects of reality or ideas that are difficult to represent through other modes of expression.

The Adinkra symbols, a unique pattern of lines, shapes, circles and squares whose origins date from around the 19TH century, amongst a people called the Asantes of Ghana, the land of my birth, is amongst the richest and most proverbial of symbols in Africa relating widely to the history, beliefs and philosophy of the Asantes. (Tetteh n.d) I have, to a large extent been drawn to the evocative and hidden messages these unique symbols encapsulate. The giant question is, "can they still be relevant two centuries later? " Is it possible to bring these same ancient symbols as an influence on Jewelry design within a contemporary African context, whilst still maintaining their proverbial meanings and wisdom?

These questions will be answered through the merging of processes, thoughts and ideas that will form the substance of this body of work.

My goal and focus will be on these symbols and the significance of their visual representation and symbolic influence in modern day society. By finding different ways and methods of making jewelry and metal art forms that respond to my current way of thinking, I will use silver, brass, copper, steel, different kinds of gemstones and fabric. The desire to draw attention to my country and continent is an important objective for me both as an individual and as a metal artist.

These symbols, whose qualities evoke meanings such as honor, respect, gallantry, good fortune, wealth, and war, amongst others will form the basis for the fabrication of my jewelry and metal art forms. I hope to explore the capacity of the meanings from the transitioning of these two dimensional symbols to a tangible 3-dimensional form that can be appreciated to a large extent.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Jewelry--Themes, motives; Art metal-work--Themes, motives; Ashanti (African people)--Folklore--Pictorial works; Signs and symbols--Ghana

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Metals and Jewelry Design (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School for American Crafts (CIAS)


Leonard Urso

Advisor/Committee Member

Juan Carlos Caballero-Perez

Advisor/Committee Member

Luvon Sheppard


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at NK7304 .O98 2014


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes