For many African women, wearing beads is a way of life and a culture passed on to them from their mothers. They grow up to find them on their waist even before they begin to question its significance.
Waist Beads are common with females these days and they are an excellent tool for women to feel more feminine and beautiful. These beautiful gemstone waist beads are hand made and customized. The tradition of wearing beads is an age long one, from time immemorial; it has been worn for varying reasons by the royalty, for body adornment, deification and decoration. Overtime the culture of the use of beads has been associated with both spiritual and material reasons. In some parts of Africa, the beads are anointed in oils and the woman stands over a smoked pot and commences to ‘smoke herself’.
The waist bead is like a band worn around the belly. In most cultures, they are a symbol of a woman’s confidence in her body and sexuality. For me, they are precious African Jewels. In West Africa, waist beads have several names; Jel-Jelli, Jigeda, Giri-Giri, Djalay Djalay, Toma or Yomba and they are always worn under clothing.
This practice of beads wearing amid females aids in sensory pleasure for the man. Some beads are adorned with bells, which is a signal to let the man know that the woman wants to engage in sexual intercourse. The some have a revered usage attached to the waist beads. It is also worn as a form of birth control, as a way of preventing obesity or also for their ‘healing’ and therapeutic powers.
Beads found in Ghana include glass beads, stone beads, crystal beads, ceramic beads, Adinkra beads, and the “Ahoofe” (beauty) beads. The tradition of wearing of beads on the waist in West Africa was made popular by the Yorubas in Nigeria. Women are the main users of these beads.
In some parts of Ghana and Nigeria, people have a belief that the waist beads possess some erotic appeal and have the power to incite desire or deep emotional response on men. Different countries take various perception to beads. In fact in Ghana, waist beads have only been acknowledged for their positive attributes. In fact one main attribute women are believed to wear waist beads in Ghana is to enhance their hips.
Gone are the days when beads have been thought to be worn by ‘unsophisticated’, forward or slutty women alone, also different stories abound on the usage of waist beads by ladies and some men who believe they are infused or laced with charms or Juju or Juju will never touch a woman wearing beads with a 10 foot pole for the fear of falling under the supposed spell of such women.
In Ghana and Ivory Coast beads have continuously been worn. For a while now in Nigeria, waist beads almost went into extinction but now the re-emergence of beads has added a new dimension into the craze among Nigerian Ladies. While some men loath it, some request their partners get them as it makes them more sensual and attractive.