Waist Beads History

Written by karen malzeke-mcdonald
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Waist Beads History
Different colours and patterns on beads communicate different messages. (wood beads, coloured beads image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Waist beads have been used by cultures all around the world to communicate female sexuality. These adornments may be styled to fit snugly around the waist or to sit low on the hips. They are made from a variety of materials and may be anointed in oils for fragrance.

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Initiation

In African cultures, young women would wear waist beads with their first admission to initiation lodges. Here the women would gather monthly during their menstrual cycles. The waist beads were worn as a symbol of the beginning of womanhood and created a physical link between women of all ages.

Visual Adornment

Women in Eastern cultures were allowed to wear waist beads under their clothing for their husband's pleasure. In African cultures, the waist bead is used to communicate a visual language of courtship and flirtation.

Waist Beads History
Different colours and patterns on beads communicate different messages. (wood beads, coloured beads image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Healing and Protection

Some African tribes will combine specific crystals and amulets into their waist beads for protection and healing. In the hoodoo religion, personal talismans are hung from the waist beads. Certain waist beads are designed to promote fertility in a woman.

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