Quick. How many hoop earrings do you have in your jewelry box? Do you think you have enough? Of course not. Now, do you know how hoop earrings, in particular bamboo door knockers, became popular? Modern history looks to Hip Hop, while broader history looks to ancient Egypt and Sudan. The thread between these histories was the inspiration behind the Bandele Muse Dono Knocker Earrings. What if there was a connection between the Bamboo Door Knockers and the Dono Adinkra symbol? Let’s unpack that, shall we?

According to Yekatrina Barbash, Associate Curator of Egyptian art at the Brooklyn Museum, in this Hello Beautiful article, “hoop earrings originated in Africa, dating back to Nubia, a civilization that existed in the fourth century in present-day Sudan.” Later, for ancient Egyptians, Barbash added, “earrings were seen as something that enhanced one’s beauty and sexuality” and was worn by all genders, royal or otherwise.

Ancient Egyptian Blog Instagram post of ancient egyptian art

As fashion trends evolved, hoop earrings were replaced. The resurgence of hoop earrings occurred in the 1960s and 70s with the Black Power and Women’s Rights movements in the US. The bold door-knocker earring, that became known as bamboos, became popular in the 1980s when Hip-Hop icons, like Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante, wore them everywhere.

Gif of Salt N Peppa Push It music video

According to Jadriena Solomon in this 21Ninety article, the bamboo earrings represent “a powerful symbol of ancient African civilization, with deep-rooted connections to Hip Hop culture and music,” plus “a symbol of resistance.”

Ok, now that we know the story behind hoop earrings and the bamboo door-knockers, it is time to add another layer to the story. Where did the bamboo shape design come from? Let’s look at the Dono Adinkra symbol.

Adinkra symbols collage

Adinkra symbols were designed by the Akan people in the early 1800s in what is now Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana. The symbols represent symbolic proverbs related to life, death, wisdom, and human behavior. They are usually painted or stamped as patterns on fabric, pottery, etc. According to Kaleena Sales in this AIGA article, many of these symbols are found in designs on wrought iron fences and wood carvings created by enslaved people from West Africa who worked as blacksmiths in cities throughout the United States, such as New Orleans.

 Chart of adinkra symbols and names

The Dono adinkra symbol depicts a type of tension talking drum. It represents united action, alertness, goodwill, praise, and rejoicing.

Now, look at the Dono symbol and compare it to the shape of the bamboo earring design. I know I am not the only one who sees a similarity between the two. Not only in the shape, but also in what it represents. Unofficially, I feel the Hip Hop bamboo door-knocker earrings and the Dono Adinkra symbol are related. Inspiration is carried through multiple generations.

This is why I named these earrings Dono Knocker, paying homage to both Ancient African history and Hip Hop history.

Bandele Muse Dono Knocker earring pictured with model

What do you think? Do you have another layer to add to the story? Make sure to join the Bandele Muse newsletter to join the conversation and share your comments below.

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