Tradition & Modern Adoption
"Waistbeads, also known as belly beads, have traditionally been worn by African women since the 15th century to serve many celebratory purposes. In Africa, a bead is rarely a simple ornament; beads are worn visibly as a sign of status or hidden as an invisible yet perceptible signal to a husband or lover."
Maturity & Growth
Throughout several countries in Africa, belly beads have been used to adorn girls and women and indicate how they have matured and grown. Traditionally, mothers adorned their daughters with waist beads during their first menstruation as a rise of passage into womanhood. New belly beads were looked forward to, as they symbolized a healthy life, and the special things about a woman that set her apart from a man.
Waistbeads can also be worn for seduction. Not only do they symbolize a woman’s progress in life, but they honor her sexuality as well. For some, waistbeads possess intimate appeal and can provoke desire. Wives would often lure their husbands with the rattle of beads or use them as a means to communicate their fertility at certain times of the month.
Senegalese and Yoruban women, in particular, heightened their allure with the gently clicking of sweetly perfumed tiny bead strands worn around the waist underneath their clothing.
Many women used waist beads as an instrument of body shaping. The beads were used to alert women of their weight gain or if they became pregnant. For women who do not normally weigh themselves, belly beads can serve as an indicator of weight loss or gain: beads roll lower on your waist if you lose weight, and become tighter or higher on your waist if you gain weight.
“There is so much beauty and history behind waist beads. They are more than mere shapes, colors, and sizes. Each string of beads holds traditions, values, and customs.”
— BILPHENA YAHWA
You do not have to be African to wear waist beads, nor do you have to wear waist beads for traditional purposes.
We want to celebrate the historical culture of African waist beads while giving a greater audience the chance to learn about its origins, adopt this form of body adornment, and make it their own!
We put our own modern spin on waistbeads and invite you to wear them either for traditional reasons or simply for fashion. Make a statement by accessorizing your look with this unique form of jewelry – Waist Beads look great in a pool setting, at the beach with your bikini, with your favorite crop tops, and they feel intimate and sexy when worn in private.
Contact for Customization