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Looking for traditional Waist beads? Check out our beautiful colorful selection of African waist chains. All of our waist beads are handmade in Nigeria and available in a wide variety of sizes.
What are waist beads?
Waist beads also known as “Ileke”, “Jigida”, and “Lagidigba” in parts of Nigeria, are a traditional accessory worn by women in several African cultures. These beads may be worn by all women from the youngest to the oldest.
What are the beads made from?
African waist beads may be made from glass, nuts, wood, or metal which are pierced, and hung on a string or threaded. They are often worn around the hips or waist. Our waist beads are made mainly with sand beads, seed beads, glass beads and crystal beads.
What is the difference between glass and crystal beads?
Glass beads tend to be lightweight and inexpensive, while crystal beads are often heavier, more delicate, and more expensive. Crystal beads are also natural and so will have imperfections while glass beads are manufactured and so tend to be smoother.
What kind of string do we use?
Our African waist beads are ready-to-use. We use strong elastic bands to hold the beads together. They are already made exactly to measure by us, so you can then simply put them on. We have chosen this method because:
- There is less risk of damaging the waist beads - You do not have to make a knot when putting on or cut the string when taking the beads off.
- Easy to combine with your outfits, or not wear them at all when you do not feel like it.
- They are more sustainable - If you lose or gain weight, you can take them off and wear them later. Alternatively, you can wrap them around your wrist or ankle.
- There is a bigger size margin of approximately 2.5cm due to the stretch from the elastic.
Origin of waist beads and their significance
African waist beads date back all the way to the 15th century, and may be seen in ancient Egyptian art. In Africa, waist beads have a deep cultural significance. This may differ across different regions. In countries such as Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Mali, Benin, Ghana, and other West African countries, waist beads are used to symbolize sensuality, fertility, and femininity. In some Nigerian cultures, waist beads may be given to women as a token of love from a suitor, a husband or family. Parents may also gift waist beads to their daughters to demonstrate their love for them.
Nowadays, women in Africa and all around the world wear waist beads to enhance their beauty. Some women also use the waist beads as a means of watching and controlling their weight. When the waist beads become tight, she is made aware that she has gained weight.
Unlike the numbers on a scale, waist beads are seen as a symbol of body positivity because the waist beads will sit higher and tighter when one gains weight and will fall lower when one loses weight. Either way, the beads beautify and enhance the figure of the wearer.
Waist beads colour and their meaning
Your waist beads are rich with symbolism. Each colour is associated with a specific meaning. Here are some:
- Brown – Down-to-earth and stability
- Gold – Good health, power, and wealth
- Green – Abundance, fertility, nature, and prosperity
- Red – Confidence and vitality
- Turquoise – Communication and self-awareness
- White – Light, truth and purity
- Yellow – Energy, joy, and happiness
- Black – Power, elegance, sophistication, and protection
- Blue – Loyalty and truth
- Orange – Courage, self-confidence, and vitality
- Pink – Care, beauty, love, and kindness
- Purple – Royalty, spirituality, and wisdom
When should you wear waist beads?
Many people question when an appropriate time for waist beads is or if they should wear them at all. Waist beads are personal and are a powerful form of self-expression. The decision to wear waist beads is up to the individual and what occasion they choose. Importantly, women should feel empowered when they wear their waist beads. Feel free to wear them as a form of adornment or jewelry, and don’t feel obligated to wear them with a religious or traditional purpose.