Quincunx Across Cultures
The quincunx that appeared in Banneker’s dream journal, originating from Senegal, may be the source of similar religious symbols associated with enslaved Africans and their descendants. About 70 miles from Banneker’s house, the Wye plantation is today famous as the site where Frederick Douglass was enslaved as a child. Archaeologists found that a similar X-shape had been carved or impressed into several artifacts from the enslaved population.
The quincunx design also traveled within Africa along trade routes. In Ghana, where gold was so plentiful that it could be exchanged for salt, trade crossroads brought together the symbols of many African cultures in a practice called “Adinkra”. Can you find the Adinkra quincunx? Click on it in the images to the left.