Beads in Africa 3: More Uses

Waist beads have a long history in Africa and are worn for various reasons and purposes. Typically worn under the clothes as a private adornment, they can represent womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality and more.

The meaning of the colours vary with each community, and speak their own language. The style and shape of each bead, it’s colour, and the composition of the beads together have meaning, they are somewhat open to interpretation. However, certain qualities are traditionally assigned to various hues:

  • Blue: faith and devotion, insight, knowledge, healing, peace, truth, harmony.
  • Green: supporting the wearer to love nature, align with prosperity, hope, harmony, healing and humble.
  • Red: courageous spirit, self-confidence, vitality, energy and passion.
  • Yellow: calming, soft wisdom, knowledge and clarity.

In ancient Africa, mothers adorned their daughters with waist beads to acknowledge their transition into womanhood and developing body and fertility. These waist beads used the addition of tiny bells to court suiters. In some cultures the waist beads were worn up until the wedding night, when they were removed by her husband.

You’ve probably seen waist beads worn by belly dancers to assist with the art of seduction. In the Middle Eastern cultures, the beads are said to be intimate and provoke desire like lingerie, maybe because women are said to infuse their beads with charms and fragrances supposedly irresistible to the opposite sex.

Waist beads can be made of stones, and some semi precious stones are reputed to have healing and influencing qualities. Worn to rebalance ones love life, or to remedy a specific ailment semi-precious stones are popular additions in the design of waist beads.

It’s not true that to wear waist beads you should be size zero. Waist beads can be worn under or over the clothes in a celebration of the feminine form. In a culture without scales, waist beads can assist in monitoring fluctuations in weight, because the strung beads alert women if she gains weight due to a health condition or becomes pregnant. Waist beads don’t stretch like yoga pants.

Waist beads serve a decorative, spiritual, and functional purpose and are spreading in popularity around the world. The appeal of beads and beadwork will continue to grow and exist as an expression of beauty and femininity.

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