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Learn more about Ghana Beads

Ghana is home to the largest bead markets in Africa. Below are African beads imported from Ghana. Trade beads have a long history in the West African country of Ghana. In fact, Ghana beads were once a form of national currency and were used to purchase many different kinds of goods including alcohol, slaves, and even textiles. The production of beads in Ghana was first documented over 200 years ago however evidence of bead production extends over two thousand years. Due to their use in trade, beads in Ghana may have a wide variety of origins that trace ancient and modern trade routes including Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Modern Ghana overlaps with the terrain of the ancient Ghana Empire.

A number of bead varieties are locally produced in Ghana. These include recycled glass beads that are made from empty glass bottles, seashell beads, as well as Krobo beads. The manufacturing of recycled beads is one way that the people of Ghana use traditional inspiration to bring new uses to old materials. The process involves breaking used bottles in pieces that are then melted and shaped using clay molds designed with the desired shape in mind. Beads may be washed in sand and then painted with designs.

Similarly, Ghana is one of the most important countries for the manufacture of Krobo beads. This name Krobo, is derived from the fact that a great deal of the powdered glass beads in Ghana are produced Krobo artisans. However craftsmen from the Ashanti ethnic group are also heavily involved in this production. Beads continue to play a role in traditional Krobo culture where they are used for many different ceremonies such as birth, marriage, death, and coming of age rituals such as Dipo where girls where a large number of beads and perform special dances. African beads are also used as a symbol of status and are worn by community leaders and chiefs.

In recent years, there has been a revival in the use of trade beads in Ghana so much so that young people are wearing them as an expression of pride in African tradition. Interestingly, the different colors that are used in the design of beads have different symbolism such as blue that represents purity, white that represents fertility, and gold that represents wealth.