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Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python

Adinkrahene

Adinkrahene is the symbol for leadership and charisma. 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.

In the last section, I introduced the grid. The grid will allow us create any symbol we want to because we can analyse and replicate the symbol of our choice.

We will draw a grid of 5 pixel squares on the image of the Adinkra symbol of our choice and replicate that on our grid. The squares on our grid are 10 pixels each. The goal of our program would be to create a grid that is two times the size of the original grid.

Drawing the 5 pixel squares on the Adinkrahene symbol will look as shown below:

Adinkrahene on a Grid
Adinkrahene on a Grid

Analysing the Symbol

The first circle is 8 squares away from the centre of the circle. So multiplying by 5 would give us 40 pixels.

The second circle is 13 pixels away from the centre of the circle. So multiplying by 5 would give us 65 pixels.

The third circle is 18 pixels away from the centre of the circle. So multiplying by 5 would give us 90 pixels.

The outer circle doesn’t touch the edge of the grid. It leaves a space of 1 square. The thickness of the circles are all 10 pixels.

The Plan to Draw the Symbol

To draw the Adinkahene symbol, we have to compensate for scaling up the shape to twice its size.

As a result of this, we shall increase the size of our pen to 20 pixels.

The first circle will have a radius of 80 pixels. We will move the pen to the location (0, -80) and draw a circle of 80 pixels.

The second circle will have a radius of 130 pixels. We will move the pen to the location (0, -130) and draw a circle of 130 pixels.

The third circle will have a radius of 180 pixels. We will move the pen to the location (0, -180) and draw a circle of radius 180 pixels.

Algorithm to Draw the Symbol

The algorithm to draw the Adinkrahene symbol is shown below:

  1. Lift up the pen
  2. Increase the pensize to 20 pixels
  3. Move the turtle to the position (0, -80)
  4. Place the pen down
  5. Draw a circle that is 80 pixels in radius
  6. Lift up the pen
  7. Move the turtle to the position (0, -130)
  8. Place the pen down
  9. Draw a circle that is 130 pixels in radius
  10. Lift up the pen
  11. Move the turtle to the position (0, -180)
  12. Place the pen down
  13. Draw a circle that is 180 pixels in radius

Using Turtle Graphics

We will use the template.py file and rename it to adinkrahene.py.

The first step in drawing the Adinkrahene symbol is to draw the innermost circle and work our way out.

The first task is to lift up the pen. The code to do this is shown below:

turtle.penup()

Next we will increase our pensize to 20. The code to do this is shown below:

turtle.pensize(20)

The origin of the turtle is at (0, 0). To move the turtle to the position (0, -80), we use the command shown below:

turtle.setposition(0, -80)

At this point, place the pen down and draw a circle of radius 80 pixels. The code to do this is shown below:

turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(80)

Our Python Turtle window will look like shown below:

Inner concentric circle of Adinkrahene
Inner Concentric Circle

Steps 6 to 9 are the steps for drawing the second circle. The code is similar to what you have already seen before and is shown below:

turtle.penup()
turtle.setposition(0, -130)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(130)

When we run the code, our second circle now appears as shown below:

Middle Circle of Adikrahene
Middle Concentric Circle

Steps 10 to 13 will draw the third circle. The code to do this is similar to what you have already seen before and is shown below:

turtle.penup()
turtle.setposition(0, -180)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(180)

When you run the code, the image is as shown below:

Adinkrahene
Final Image

Complete Code

The code for drawing the symbol is shown below:

"""
Project Name: Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python
Symbol Name: Adinkrahene
Developer Name: Truston Ailende
Email Address: trustonailende@gmail.com
"""
import turtle
import math

# Square
def drawSquare(length):
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.setposition(-length/2.0, length/2.0)
    turtle.pendown()
    for i in range(0, 4):
        turtle.forward(length)
        turtle.right(90)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Horizontal lines
def drawHorizontalLine(length, division):
    pixelSpace = int(length / division)
    half = int(length / 2)
    for j in range((-half + pixelSpace), half, pixelSpace):
        turtle.penup()
        turtle.setposition(-half, j)
        turtle.pendown()
        turtle.forward(length)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Vertical lines
def drawVerticalLine(length, division):
    pixelSpace = int(length / division)
    half = int(length / 2)
    turtle.right(90)
    for k in range((-half + pixelSpace), half, pixelSpace):
        turtle.penup()
        turtle.setposition(k, half)
        turtle.pendown()
        turtle.forward(length)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Draw the grid
drawSquare(400)
drawHorizontalLine(400, 40)
drawVerticalLine(400, 40)

# Change the colour mode
turtle.colormode(255)

# Change the pencolor to red
turtle.pencolor(255, 0, 0)

# Draw the horizontal centre line
turtle.setposition(-200, 0)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.forward(400)
turtle.penup()

# Draw the vertical centre line
turtle.setposition(0, 200)
turtle.setheading(270)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.forward(400)

# Reset all the properties
turtle.home()
turtle.pencolor(0, 0, 0)

# Place code here
# Lift up the pen
turtle.penup()

# Set the pensize
turtle.pensize(20)

# Draw the first circle
turtle.setposition(0, -80)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(80)

# Draw the second circle
turtle.penup()
turtle.setposition(0, -130)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(130)

# Draw the third circle
turtle.penup()
turtle.setposition(0, -180)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.circle(180)

# End the program
turtle.done()

Where Can It Be Found?

A brief Google search led me to the following places where you can get branded Adinkrahene products:

  1. TShirts, Mugs and Phone Cases on TeePublic
  2. Pendants on Purple Blessing
  3. Socks on Adinkra Republic

Summary

At the end of this post, we have successfully used the Python Turtle environment to draw the Adinkrahene symbol.

The code for this series is available on GitHub. Please feel free to check it out.

Support this Series

Using the Adinkra symbols, I created the Adinkra Notebooks Collection.

You can support this series by buying one of them.

Categories
Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python

Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python – Introduction

I was privileged to live in Ghana for 15 months of my life. All around me I would see these symbols which I didn’t know what they meant and one day I would ask my Ghanaian friends their meaning.

What would follow would be an exposition into the heart of Ghanaian culture. Sadly, that culture is dying. This isn’t just true for Ghanaian culture but African culture in general.

The reason I believe is that at present, our culture contributes nothing meaningful to our lives. What’s the use of culture if you can’t feed yourself. Sadly, everywhere you look, Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.

Yet, that culture is relevant to today’s realities. I am a graduate of Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos and I would say that my understanding of my culture was made more meaningful to me from my studies.

There are many forms of power in this world. The strongest of which is identity. When you know who you are, you will reject anything else and the world will either conform to you or eliminate you but while you live, you will dictate your terms.

I am an Esan man from Edo state in Nigeria. A descendant of the last men to surrender to the British in the Southern Protectorate that would later become Nigeria.

Knowing this, I expect myself to lead and on the hard days, I remind myself of who I am.

That is the strength an identity gives you. Why African culture doesn’t do the same is simply because we have never sought to truly understand it.

Most of what we call culture in Africa is dogma. Whenever you ask the practitioners the reasons for some cultural belief, there is no explanation other than: “It’s our culture”.

Such an approach repels most people who only see the rites but cannot connect to their meaning. Rather than acceptance, such an attitude breads contempt.

I only got to learn about the Adinkra symbols because the Ghanaians were open about it. If my friends had kept quiet, I would never have discovered the beauty, minimalism and symmetry of the Adinkra symbols.

This series “Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python” will look at 40 Adinkra symbols and my attempt to draw them using the Python programming language. It is a rewrite of a series on my old blog.

I will be using Python 3. In the old blog, I created the code using Python 2. I intend to optimize the code as much as I can.

For a quick introduction to the Python programming language, please check out my fifth book: “Learn Python In One Week“.

I will be drawing 40 symbols in all. This symbols are the easiest to draw because they are made up of lines and circular curves.

Using Turtle Graphics

Before we can draw the symbols satisfactorily, we need to use a grid to analyse the symbols.

A grid will be drawn over the images of the symbols and we will be attempt to reproduce the image on our own grid.

The base images are 200 X 200 pixels. I will be drawing on a grid of 400 X 400 pixels.

The commands we will be using are:
1. import turtle
2. turtle.penup()
3. turtle.setposition(x coordinate, y coordinate)
4. turtle.pendown()
5. turtle.forward()
6. turtle.right(degree)
7. turtle.left(degree)

Please check out the Python documentation if you need to know the meaning of the commands.

The source file should be saved as template.py because we will use this file to draw the other symbols.

The code is shown below:

"""
Project Name: Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python
Developer Name: Truston Ailende
Email Address: trustonailende@gmail.com
"""
import turtle
import math

# Square
def drawSquare(length):
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.setposition(-length/2.0, length/2.0)
    turtle.pendown()
    for i in range(0, 4):
        turtle.forward(length)
        turtle.right(90)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Horizontal lines
def drawHorizontalLine(length, division):
    pixelSpace = int(length / division)
    half = int(length / 2)
    for j in range((-half + pixelSpace), half, pixelSpace):
        turtle.penup()
        turtle.setposition(-half, j)
        turtle.pendown()
        turtle.forward(length)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Vertical lines
def drawVerticalLine(length, division):
    pixelSpace = int(length / division)
    half = int(length / 2)
    turtle.right(90)
    for k in range((-half + pixelSpace), half, pixelSpace):
        turtle.penup()
        turtle.setposition(k, half)
        turtle.pendown()
        turtle.forward(length)
    turtle.penup()
    turtle.home()

# Draw the grid
turtle.speed(1000000)
drawSquare(400)
drawHorizontalLine(400, 40)
drawVerticalLine(400, 40)

# Change the colour mode
turtle.colormode(255)

# Change the pencolor to red
turtle.pencolor(255, 0, 0)

# Draw the horizontal centre line
turtle.setposition(-200, 0)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.forward(400)
turtle.penup()

# Draw the vertical centre line
turtle.setposition(0, 200)
turtle.setheading(270)
turtle.pendown()
turtle.forward(400)

# Reset all the properties
turtle.home()
turtle.pencolor(0, 0, 0)

# Place code here

# End the program
turtle.done()

Check out the GitHub repository for all the code for this series.

The code shown above creates a grid of 400 X 400 pixels and resets the turtle to be at the origin of the window when the program finishes running.

The generated image is shown below:

Grid to Draw Adinkra Symbols

Where Can They Be Found?

Adinkra Symbols are ubiquitous in Ghana, a beautiful West African country on the Atlantic, situated between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.

On cloth and walls, in pottery and logos, these Asante tribe symbols can be found everywhere.

I would first notice them in a church.

Summary

This post has introduced the series “Drawing Adinkra Symbols using Python” which has the aim to draw 40 Adinkra symbols using the Python programming language.

There are a large number of Adinkra symbols but 40 were chosen because the are the easiest to analyse and draw.

Each of the motifs that make up the corpus of Adinkra symbolism has a name and meaning derived either from a proverb, an historical event, human attitude, animal behaviour, plant life, forms and shapes of inanimate and man-made objects.

There are evocative messages in them that carry traditional wisdom. The beliefs, history, and philosophy of the Akan people is also represented by them.

They are still relevant because the corpus of symbols covers all aspects of life in terms of values and the collective knowledge of a people that has been handed over from antiquity.

Support this Series

Using the Adinkra symbols, I created the Adinkra Notebooks Collection.

You can support this series by buying one of them.