According to Asante oral history, Adinkra originated in Gyaman, a kingdom in former Cote d'Ivoire. The king of the Gyaman, Nana Adinkra, attempted to copy the Golden Stool, the Asante's symbol of absolute power. In a resulting battle, Adinkra was defeated and captured by the Asante people of Ghana. In expression of his sorrow for being captured and forced to live in Kumasi, he draped himself in the stamped cloth now referred to as Adinkra cloth. Eventually he was killed, and his territory was annexed.
Around the 19th century, the Asante people began stamping the traditional symbols of the Gyaman onto cloth.