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Aggrey Beads – The Precious Gems of Ghana

Beads are central to the culture, history and heritage of Ghana. So much so, in fact, that the Akan people have a myriad of proverbs about these decorative glass objects.

The Meaning of Aggrey Beads

“Anwenne? pa nkasa” - meaning “beads of quality do not speak” - is one of the most popular, and perhaps best sums up how Ghanaian people appreciate the spiritual value and cultural relevance of such beads in their every day lives.

Both the Asante and Krobo tribes of Ghana are world renowned for their recycled glass bead production. This primitive art form dates back to the 16th Century, when, it is believed that Nomadic Yoruba may have introduced the technology to the Akans after learning it from Phoenician and Egyptian bead-makers centuries before. Early beads were considered spiritual vessels, and were often used in healing rites by shaman and traditionalists.

Aggrey Beads vs Recycled Glass Beads

Aggrey beads are somewhat different to recycled glass beads in that they are made to resemble semi-precious gems. Many are free-form and translucent, with flecks of color that mimic the natural veins and specks of stones such as agate, carnelian and bauxite.

Benefits and Traditions of Aggrey Beads

There are many benefits and traditions that come from old Aggrey Beads. Male and female tribe members utilize aggrey beads for different purposes. Young women often wear strings of these beads during coming of age and Dipo initiations to communicate their femininity, whereas young men wear them as symbols of status.

Recycled Glass Beads are also gifted to babies during naming ceremonies, as it is believed the spirits contained within these glass vessels will protect the child from harm.

Historical Uses of Aggrey Beads

One of the most historic uses for Aggrey Beads is within Akan royal ceremonies. These beads are typically larger than those worn by members of the tribe, and are often flecked with specks of gold or silver to indicate the wearer's chosen status by the gods.

Discovered the beauty and versatility of Recycled Glass Beads for your own jewelry designs here.