Beads are made in many different regions throughout the African continent. They are made by independent bead makers, more moderately sized bead factors, and by African tribes. African beads made by indigenous tribes and ethnic groups are most commonly referred to as African tribal beads.

There are hundreds of different tribes and ethnic groups within Africa. Several of these tribes and their African tribal members are more commonly known for their beads. Today, we will introduce you to five of the top bead-making tribes within Africa, as well as a bit of their histories.

Krobo Beads

The Krobo tribe is comprised of approximately 150,000 people. They are the largest group of Adangme-speaking peoples, and thrive in the mountains of Ghana, just inland from the coast. They make the fourth largest ethnic group of Ghana. The Krobo people make beautiful beads, known as Krobo beads. Their beads are made of crushed glass, using the powder glass technique. Very often the beads are also painted from the outside. They are also known for their beautiful Akoso beads. Most of the time, we have approximately 20-30 different varieties of Krobo beads in stock.

Dogon Beads

The Dogon people make up approximately half a million in population, and thrive primarily in the central region of Mali. They are most known for their Dogon trade beads, also known as annular wound trade beads, or donut beads. Dogon donut beads come in many different colors, some being far more rare than others. Many trade beads known as Dogon beads were actually made by the Dutch and traded in Mali. Some are up to 200 years old. They also make beautiful Mali clay Dogon beads.

Fulani Beads

The Fulani are an ethnic people present throughout Western Africa, Northern Africa, and Central Africa, including in present day Mali, Nigeria, and Ghana. Most Fulani people are Muslim. Their traditional culture is one of nomadic herding and trading. In fact, they are one of the larger nomadic tribes in the world, and have been successful in establishing prominent trade routes throughout Western Africa. The Fulani beads that are most common today are Fulani funeral beads, and Mali wedding beads.

Yoruba Beads

The Yoruba tribe is one of the largest tribes in Africa. Recent reports estimate the tribe to number up to fifty million, primarily prevalent in Nigeria, as well as Ghana, Togo, and others. The most common Yoruba beads are Yoruba brass beads, Keta Awuazi Beads, and Yoruba mock coral beads.

Maasai Beads

The Maasai ethnic group makes up approximately one million semi-nomadic people primarily located in Kenya and Tanzania. Common Maasai beads include Maasai trade beads, often known as tomato beads, as well as Maasai seed beads. Our Maasai seed beads are some of our best-selling beads. They come with about 20 strands of beads, in up to 10 colors, all for under $30.

If you are looking for an ethnic flavor, African tribal beads would make great for your next jewelry creation. Unlike today's common Chinese and Indian made beads, these beads carry a rich history and culture everywhere they go.