Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Start A Trend! African Waistbeads
UPDATED 9/16/15: After many requests, I have created African Waistbead Kits for sale! Learn to make your own for pleasure or as an entrepreneurial pursuit.
African Waistbeads Kit includes all that you need to make 10 African Waistbeads (single or multi-strand), including the round nose pliers, jump rings, lobster clasps, 24 yards of wire, more than 200 grams of beads PLUS a beautiful crystal quartz pendant!

Original post:
I've been admiring waistbeads for years and rocking my own, sporadically for the last 2 years. For me, it was about adorning myself plus I dig the symbolic connection to The Motherland. Learning from an African girlfriend that waistbeads also serve the purpose of keeping the waistline in check was just an added incentive. I must say that having your waistbeads fit you high on the waist and then travel towards the pelvis as you lose weight feels like such an accomplishment! And feeling them become snug and pinch as your waistline grows, is all of the motivation you need to push away from the table.
So I dug up a little history to share.
Excerpt from:

Ancient Egyptians with waistbeads
Beads of the waist is said to posses the power to attract and evoke deep emotional responses, they are a sign of success and affluence as well as spiritual well being. 
The common users of the waist beads are mostly the women folk, only in exceptional theatrical perform as will a man adorn a waist bead to symbolize feminism. The waist bead is synonymous with feminism.

The Yorubas have a belief that the waist beads posses some erotic appeal, they have the power to provoke desire or deep emotional response on the opposite sex. 

Waist beads in Yoruba are also used for birth control, the beads are laced with charms and worn by the women to prevent conception.
Beads are a precious ornaments to the Yorubas, hence when adorned by a women, accentuates her feminism or beauty. Beads also helps to portray the chastity of a maiden or women sensuality. Parent show their love for their girl child through gifts of waist beads that are colourful and expensive.

Apart from the Yorubas, other groups in Nigeria also have similar usages of the waist beads in their culture the Ogonis in Rivers State refer to beads as Loo, its uses range from covering the private parts of a women to adornment as a sign of affluence. The beads is a measure of value to the Ogonis and are also worn by bride as part of her bridal rites. The Igbos called it Mgbaji, also for adornment and a sign of social status.
The Hausas refer to it as Jigida. To the Kalabaris, the waist bead has the potency of transforming an ugly woman into a beautiful maiden once it is worn. The Ibibios see it as Nkwa-Isin, they adorn it on a female baby to help give her a good waist line, as she grows, beads of her size are adorned on her.
Priestesses of deities also wear the beads that are always colourful as part of their regalia. They also use the waist beads laced with charm s for birth control. The maiden dances (Aban) also wear the beads doing dance to give a graceful hip movement when they dance. 

waist beads by sewra/
waist beads by sewra/
 I have been able to find waistbeads in African stores. You can also buy them online from my favorite waistbead designer; Sewra.

Or do as I have did yesterday and string your own. Just know that waistbeads are tantalizing, sexy, and authentically AFRICAN. Whether you buy them handmade or string your own, just rock them with pride.

Emerging jewelry designers can learn how to design a collection to present to stores. Read my book ENVISION: The Young Accessory Designer's Guide to Collection Development. Get the softcover or download it instantly.

My own handmade waistbeads


  1. can you wear them even if you don't wear a crop top or do you have to take them off?

  2. Mak, I wear mine under my clothes all year round and hardly ever take them off.

  3. do they have a clasp of some sort or do you slide them on (im planning on making some myself)

  4. My pleasure. Feel free to send a finished photo to share.

  5. Hello all, II'm trying to host a party but I'm having a hard time trying to find somebody that does the beads. Please if you know anybody give me the info please thank u .ladies

    1. Hi Brandy. Google Sewra Waistbeads. She is out of Brooklyn and is wonderful. Best of luck. Have a great party!

  6. Check out Beads Build Ghana, which is a social enterprise that employs Ghanaian waistbead-makers in Ghana and USA women as distributors of our high quality waistbeads made from Czech beads and vintage jewels. We also have a large stock on hand to supply waistbead parties. Please contact us through our website, Cheers!

  7. Excellent post !
    Your beads style is very fine.You added many types of information in your site.Reading this article has been a enjoyable experience .I think that your website will be helpful for us.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this article.
    Munmun Nishi :)

    Ghana Beads "

  8. What kind of thread do you use for the string of the band? I looked up elastic thread but it brought up white elastic sewing thread!

    1. I now use thin gauge wire because it is unbreakable but jewelry elastic works fine but it's quite as secure as wire.