#CultureSpotlight Exploring The Fascination Behind Waist beads In Africa

by Duchess Magazine
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Since time immemorial, traditional waist beads, firmly rooted in Africa and made from beads, cowries, metals, and glass, neatly tied together with a string or wire have adorned many many waists and have been known to be a go-to accessory for females.

A proud display of Africa’s rich cultural heritage, the waist beads, which come in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors, more than just beautifying, hold deep cultural significance in the continent, identifying her own wherever seen, as well as also serve several purposes; weight tracking, social status, maturity, posture checking, etc.

Also known as belly chains and arguably made popular by the Yoruba tribe, each bead comes across with varied meanings, depending on the wearer and beholder. Waist beads are said to symbolize womanhood, sexuality, femininity, desirability, and fertility and have held high appeal, since the 15th century in Africa, especially in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and other West African countries.

Maturity: Signifying womanhood, and growth, some West African traditions have been noted to adorn their daughters with waist beads when born and when her first menstruation occurs to symbolize their passage into womanhood. It symbolizes the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Weight tracking: Since waist beads generally don’t stretch, when a lady sits she can tell if she has gained weight because the beads either feel uncomfortable or sit higher at the waist, serving as a constant reminder. It is also believed that constantly wearing multiple waist beads over time helps streamline the waist and accentuate the hips.
However, the option of adjustable waist beads exists.

Waist beads up the desirability scale. An enticing ornament that beautifies the waist, belly, and hips, beads have been known to create curiosity, and improve the sexual appetite and sexual experience of both the wearer and partner. Sometimes the beads are said to be laced with charms and fragrances.

Whatever reason you choose, fact is, waist beads have undeniably held irresistible appeal for ages in Africa and beyond, and come modern influences or not, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

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