African trade beads or slave beads may be antique beads that were manufactured in Europe and used for trade during the colonial period, such as chevron beads; or they may have been made in West Africa by and for Africans, such as Mauritanian Kiffa beads, Ghanaian and Nigerian powder glass beads, or African-made brass beads. Many people believe that Phoenician mariners brought the first beads to Africa but there is no physical evidence to support this theory. Maasai beadwork proclaims their joy of living every waking moment. In some parts of Africa, the beads are anointed in … Beads were used as part of African religious rituals, thereby increasing their value and respect. But when you think of Africa, beads are probably not the foremost image. Read More about “About”…. Nigerian Cement tycoon 'Dangote' is the richest black person in the world, with a fortune estimated at $11.9 billion (as of January, 2021). African Beads History: The Amazing History & Bead Work In Africa. In Africa, waist beads were usually used to signify the changes a female body goes through over the years. Waist beads have been used for centuries in West African cultures as symbols of fertility, sexuality, and spirituality. Various tribes of the Turkana people who range from northern Africa down to modern-day Kenya used beads as currency and they were commonly paid as marriage dowries and used for the purchase of cattle. As a sign that a woman had reached marriageable age and could now have suitors Strung with bells, to show that a woman was still pure as at the time of marriage. Trade Beads African Trade Beads refer to beads once used in exchange for goods - essentially used as a form of currency from the 12th Century. Beadwork and its Uses in South Africa; ... Should they run out of time or the money needed to buy beads, most women improvise by using plastic and other materials. To attract suitors. The wearing of beads on the waist was made popular by West Africans, specifically Nigerians. Revenues from special screenings, DVD sales, online streaming and theatrical screenings outside... Africa has long been a mysterious, magical, and interesting place. Numerous tribes have not only become masters of bead production and their use as decoration but have garnered worldwide reputations as artists of this milieu. Adorn your waist this summer! Almost all beads were made from indigenous, organic materials until around the 4th century A.D. when glass beads made their way into the continent from Portugal, and about this same time there is archeological evidence recovered from tombs in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt that glass beads were in widespread use as personal decorations for noble families. For the next seven centuries, beads were the driving force of the African economy. By subscribing, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. Many other societies in Africa had unique uses for their beads such as for attracting members of the opposite sex, and as play items for young children and adolescents. Besides using beads for fashion reasons, some African communities in the past used special types of beads as currencies for exchange of goods and services. Some Waist beads are used for healing or rejuvenation purposes; depending on the ailment or what needs to be enhanced, various semi-precious stones are also included in the design of the waist beads. The North American Plains Indians are also known for their magnificent beadwork that interestingly enough bears many of the same designs and patterns of early African beading. Unfortunately, that term was in common usage until the 1920’s when socially conscious people began to realize just how offensive the word was and it was replaced with the term, “trade beads.”. Cowry shells can be found throughout Africa and … Beads play a very important role in the life and culture of the Krobo people of Ghana. Group Culture Coordinator & Researcher Rukariro Katsande weighs in on the significance of beads in African culture… They do not only wear these items for special occasions, but as an everyday way of life. In Africa particularly, history is inextricably intertwined with beads. There are a number of tribal cultures that have raised beadwork to its highest levels, employing it not only for rites and ceremonies, but incorporating beadwork into the utensils of everyday life, turning the most mundane objects into living works of art, and probably the best known of all are the Maasai.