Africa is highly recognised for its handmade, gorgeous beadwork when it comes to stunning jewellery.
Because they were used in exchange for commodities or as payment for many years, African beads are commonly referred to as trade beads. African beads date back to around 10,000 B.C. and were unearthed in Libya, while ancient Egypt also produced stunning beadwork designs reaching back to 1500 B.C.
Makai beaded jewellery follows strict cultural standards and is made with colour and style in mind. Makai people wear beaded jewellery on significant occasions, including weddings. Women from the Pokot tribe in Kenya and Uganda are known for their magnificent broad beaded collars and necklaces. Women from the Turkana tribe, who live in Kenya’s Rift Valley Land’s Turkana region, wear beading that denotes their social rank. The Nigerian Yoruba kings were noted for their beautiful beaded crowns.
African beads for trade.
Historically, African jewellery has been used to barter and trade with, often primarily in exchange for fabric, food, or other goods, but it was also used to enslave people. In Africa, jewellery is rarely only for decoration; rituals, religion, and rites all play a role.
In Africa, everyone wore different jewellery, and to be honest, some individuals started wearing them at a very young age, and they were replaced at a certain age or status event, such as reaching manhood, puberty, or marriage.
African artisans continue to make stunning traditional beadwork that is distinctive to their tribe or location. For many communities in Africa, selling and producing beads and then making jewellery out of them has been a substantial source of revenue.
The oldest jewellery unearthed in Africa stretches back thousands of years and was discovered in a cave in South Africa. It is estimated to be around 74,300 years old.
Tribal jewellery in Africa was made from natural materials such as amber, paper, bone, wood, ivory, metal, shells, hair, stone, and a variety of other natural materials. Those materials were one-of-a-kind and stunning. Waist chains, necklaces, ankle chains, bracelets, and head or body adornments were made from these varied materials.
Jewelry in Africa has been used as a way to convey information or tell a tale. It is also used as a cultural connection symbol or status symbol, depending on the culture and time period. Jewelry was typically used for ritual dances with waist chains or beaded belts worn at wedding ceremonies to commemorate pleasant family memories, and cowrie shells were even employed as a way to exchange items.
People in this area utilise African jewellery to improve personal beauty, personal flair, and to display the creativity of African craftsmen, just as they did in the past.
Jewelry is an important component of fashion in all cultures, especially for women. Maybe this is why these things are made from a variety of materials, usually whatever the culture thinks is important.
Many things can be tolerated by jewellery, according to African folklore. Jewellery can show your wealth, protect you from evil and bring you good fortune.
African Jewelry Types
African jewellery styles are wide and varied. Beaded jewellery, gold jewellery, cowrie shell jewellery, elephant hair jewellery, and even bone jewellery are some of the more common and unique forms. Africans used natural materials to create bracelets, necklaces, anklets, and other jewellery.
African Beliefs in Jewelry
African jewellery was worn for more than just decoration and beauty. Every piece of jewellery had a story or meaning attached to it. For example, folklore has it that wearing elephant hair bracelets will protect you from injury and illness, as well as bring you good luck. Those bracelets usually feature two, four, or six loops, each representing an earthly energy.
The two elephant hair knots on the bracelet symbolise and represent the earth, which represents fertility and ancestors, as well as nature, which represents spirits and energies. As a result, it is thought to bring nature and the earth into harmony.
The four-knot elephant hair bracelet represents the elements of fire, snow, sun, wind, and water or to put it another way: everything that is Mother Nature. The strands of elephant hair that pass through the knots symbolize the seasons of the year and Africans have a special relationship with them. The six knot elephant hair bracelet symbolizes this too but it is not very popular in Africa because it’s difficult to make and doesn’t look very pretty.