This one is for the ladies!
Traditionally, waist beads were constructed in the so-called “fattening houses” of the Old Kongo Empire which were female initiation lodges. The beads were symbolic of Mother Nature’s initiation of a young girl – the first menses. Some say the beads may have been used as an anchor about which the monthly cloth was wound similar to the old style sanitary napkin belt.
In the Efik culture of
West Africa the adornment of women reached a peak of intricacy and refinement. Women were walking charms.
Africa beads were money, a successful suitor would commission a set of beads for the waist, ankles, arms, wrists and neck of his bride. These beads formed the foundation of her personal wealth.
African waist bead was the source of the belly dancers adornment in Eastern cultures. Other Islamic cultures allowed the wearing of waist beads underneath clothing for the husband’s pleasure. Some beads were adorned with bells, which was a signal to let the man know that the woman was clean, i.e. at the proper stage where sexual intercourse was allowed in that culture.
In other parts of
Africa and the Diaspora, women wear waist beads for their own personal pleasure. Some shaman women add crystals and gemstones to facilitate healing by the properties of the particular stones.
In Hoodoo culture, the waistbeads became knotted cords worn around the waist that held one’s NATION SACK or personal talisman. The post partum female wore a tightly wound cloth around her middle to protect her in a vulnerable time and to help her get back the tone of her stomach muscle by binding them up until her menses started again.
Today, young women who show their bare midriffs as a fashion statement add waist beads and navel piercings along with tattoos as the latest /oldest accessory.
Waist beads are an excellent tool for spiritual protection as they seal and close the circuits of the energetic bodies. Thus one avoids things such as obsessive spirits or thoughts, invasion of psychic space, and vampirism.
African folklore also attributes the wearing of waist beads to the definition of the waist, meaning that it helped a female to hold their figure or shape. Other old tales say they help one to hold on to their mate as well. Waist beads are a way for those who love beads to wear them. They offer those who have repressed creativity an opportunity to express it during the process of choosing and selecting the beads.