"One of the more popular symbols employed in Ghana's graphic communication system of adinkra is the design called sankofa which depicts a bird looking backwards. It may also be rendered more abstractly as a curvilinear heart-shaped motif. In Twi, one of the major languages of Akan-speaking peoples, the word sankofa is derived from the words SAN (return), KO (go), FA (look, seek and take). Sankofa loosely translates as "go back and fetch it.". It suggests that one should profit from experience and learn from the past as a way to move forward in the future.Bird Looking Backwards Curivlinear Design
More information on adinkra:
Hundreds of two- and three-dimensional adinkra patterns ornament Akan art forms, including wooden prestige objects, brass weights, jewelry and, most prominently, stamped textiles that are worn for important occasions, especially funerals. In their public contexts of use, objects decorated with adinkra symbols elicit specific proverbs and popular sayings by those knowledgeable in this visual language. Invented by the Asante, adinkra designs and their meanings have widespread appeal among the broader Akan population."
-Christine Mullen Kreamer
Curator, National Museum of African Art