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Customs In Africa: The Mythical Significance of African Glass Beads

Africa, like most continents has a fascinating history associated with religion and faith. Due to the sheer diversity of cultures, indigenous tribes and ethnic backgrounds – there is still a large proportion of rural communities and tribe-dominated provinces that adhere to the beliefs of animism, holistic healing and even magic.

Tribal Symbolism of African Beads

Animals of flight, such as birds and bats are thought to be carriers of souls, fortune and good luck. The Samburu people of North Africa proffer strings of Blue Kakamba Prosser Beads to the sky and God in thanks for rain and luck. White Batik Bone Beads (similar to those we have at The Bead Chest) are representative of purity, ancient wisdom and success – which is why they are mostly worn by the elders or noble tribal chiefs. White is also thought to attract good fortune, borne on the backs of winged creatures.

Like many religions adornments, jewelry and clothing play a strong role within many of the roles, rituals and rites associated with indigenous beliefs. In Ghana, the “circle of life” starts with birth, and ends in death – marked in between by a number of important milestones, such as puberty, marriage, child-bearing and the menopause.

Ghana's Bead Culture Meanings

Ghana is one of the main African regions whom have utilize glass African Trade Beads within their culture – predominantly because of the colors of these beads. Certain colors are also believed to ward off evil – notably white. It is a common ritual within Ghanaian tribes, especially the Krobo – to tie a multicolored string of Old Venetian Glass Trade Beads around the waist of a new-born baby to ward off disease, evil and negative aura. Trade Beads were for centuries the primary currency of African economy, however they are also thought to be a form of currency exchange for the soul, with certain Gods.

Egyptian Mythology and Bead Symbolism

Most of us will be aware of Egyptian mythology which suggests an affluent King or Pharaoh was buried with all manner of exquisite riches and golden jewelry, which would then be exchangeable for entrance into the after-life. Similar concepts are evident within the cultures of the Yoruban people who crown their leaders with exquisite masks, covered in Heishi Beads and glass seed beads (probably glass Christmas Beads like those we have here at The Bead Chest). It is thought these masks imparted psychic abilities sent from the Gods.

Additional Tribal Bead Symbolism:

Krobo Fancy Powderglass Beads and Recycled Glass Beads are extremely symbolic to Ghanaian tribes. Colorful beads known as Bodum beads were for centuries passed down within families, alleged to possess the whispered incantations, prayers and healing properties of wise elders. These beads became particularly favored for their medicinal and healing powers. Krobo Beads found increased use in place of Bodum beads, primarily because of the many colors they came in. Each color variant was though to house a specific healing property, and was used for a specific ailment. In a similar fashion to the Egyptians, certain Ghanaian tribes send multicolored strands of Old African Trade Beads to accompany the dead to the after-life. It is thought they will then be able to pay any debt of sin with these beads.

Unique Attributes of African Beads and Their Meaning

As you'll have noticed from our multifarious range of sourced African Trade Beads, they come in many different colors, shapes and sizes that it is impossible to cover the unique properties of each type. If you're looking to add a spiritual element to your jewelry, why not browse our colorful strings of Old Venetian Trade Beads? With so many different colored beads per strand, you are guaranteed to receive a quantity with a number of holistic and religious properties to safe-guard from all kinds of bad omen.