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African wedding beads history

by Adam Ratcliffe 11 Dec 2019 0 Comments

African wedding beads history

African waist beads are an exclusive collection of jewelry, being worn by the Africans for more than 75000 years. With a history going back, the first-ever example has been found in the year 2004 on the South African Coast. As per the ancient artifacts, the waist bead chain is usually made out of material easily found within the continent of Africa while the first one in history was the shell of the ostrich egg, utilized for the purpose of making it fancy.

“The consumption of semiprecious stones in the making appears to be the exclusive option behind having the belly beads chain around the waist a trend today.”

Adding more to the history, the availability of beads have been consumed further in Kenya, Sudan, Libya for more than 12000 years. The resident of the countries has been recognizing them as valuable currency. As per the research conducted, people have been presenting the egg-shell beads to their daughters as a major part of the dowry as the bead-strands have also been consumed in exchange for the goods and cattle. The first type of beads that came into existence were the cowrie shell beads and the bone beads, mainly utilized for the trade purpose in Africa till 4th century BC that is when glass beads were revealed in Africa. Dating back in the 9th century, the trend of minuscule beads was high, worn by the royals, reflecting their nobility by having them woven into the opulent collars.

“Glass beads derived from Egypt and Western Europe has dominated the African Economy for over 700 years”

More about the 4th century

Since the 4th century, the history of African waist beads is rich or say incredible. The burial sites just like the Valley of the kings made the people discover the significance of waist beads as wealthy jewelry which also served as the decorative artifacts produced out of the glass. The glass beads trend in Africa that started off in the 4th century has also been referred to as the unofficial beginning as was produced in distinctive ways.

“The noticeable production of glass seed beads took place after the 12th century in popular areas that include Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Krobo”

Even in the 4th century, the processes of manufacturing are different. But when it comes to recycling, all of them are evidenced to be the same as compared to what is practiced today. One common method used comprises compacting the ground particles before firing. This process- the wet-core has been considered as the slowest process.

“The tribe of Africa predominantly consumed African waist beads for purposes including holistic healing, the rights of passage ceremonies and for the satisfaction of the rituals.

More about the 14th century

The 14th century proves the effort of the explorers for the discovery of beads, that is when they landed with colorful glass beads on the shores of South Africa for trading them via the safe region. This was also to ensure the richness of this foreign land that comprises the spices, fur, as well as the palm oil. In addition, the market for the slaves was also developed which was said to be a helpful decision for the growth of the African economy. Hence, a notable rise in the currency.

“From 1700 to 1920, the golden trade era for the African economy started as the highest level of trade in the country started”

Additionally, the slave beads were also produced, namely “Venetian trade beads”, consumed for the exchange of slaves. The common ones include the pineapple-shaped chevron beads, doughnut beads, elbow millefiori beads, etc.

Want to have your wardrobe filled with the stunning beads collection? Must take a look at

About Tadalu Waist Beads

Our Accessories Are Just As Unique & Diverse As the African Culture! Experience the vastness and uniqueness of the African culture by adopting the centuries-old cultural practice of adorning the waist with impeccably-crafted waist beads. At Tadalu, we aim to inspire women with timeless African values that are uniquely stylish. We also strive to support the African jewelry industry and work with local artisans to provide our clients throughout the world with authentic African waist beads at affordable prices.
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