Over centuries women have been known to adorn themselves with different accessories on different parts of their bodies.
While most accessories have been appreciated and even used as a standard of beauty, waist beads have for a long time been a point of contention among different groups of people.
Today, some women still wear the beads with pride or openly share their admiration. On the other hand, some people can’t hold back their distaste for this particular accessory and go as far as considering it evil and a sin to wear.
But how true is this? To address this concern this article will look at the origin of waist beads and their meaning both in the cultural and Christian context.
Waist Beads History.
Waist beads are largely seen as an African accessory. Scholars believe that they may have first originated from Ancient Egypt in North Africa.
In that time, they were called girdles or belts and were worn by women as a status symbol. There is even pictorial evidence that depicts them being adorned on Ancient Egyptian women.
The beads, however, also date back to the 15th century where they are believed to have been popularized by the Yoruba community in Nigeria. Yoruba women would wear them for traditional and ritualistic reasons.
But they were not the only African community found to have worn these beads during that time. Even Ghanaian women were known to have been presented with these beads as a sign of coming to age among other reasons.
The popularity of these beads continued to spread throughout Africa reaching East Africa between the 16th to 18th centuries thanks to the Portuguese and Arab traders.
The influence continued to different parts of Southern Africa to the Caribbean. In countries like Zambia and Malawi, the waist beads were used as a form of seduction by married women for their husbands and also worn by pregnant women.
This accessory came in different designs and colors. It was also made using different materials like beads, glass, plastic, leather, or even clay.
Some scholars speculate that there may have been a version of it that existed in the Paleolithic period where it may have been made of teeth or shells from horses or mammoths.
Is Wearing Waist Beads Cultural Appropriation?
No, we see the wearing of waist beads today as seem like more of a cultural appreciation of the African cultures. Initially, African women were known to adorn this accessory.
Today, it has become a popular trend where women from all races shapes, and sizes, have adopted wearing these colorful and vibrant beads on proudly on their waists.
In the past, there were many reasons why women wore these beads. For the Ghanaians, it was a sign of a woman coming to age. They believed that the strings of the beads were anchors that tied the menstrual tissue.
In other communities, the waist beads were tied to infants during their naming ceremonies to increase their hips and waist growth. Some had gemstones, essential oils, or charms added to them as a way of adding rejuvenating or healing qualities.
Others added bells to theirs as a sign that they were still as pure as they were when they were married. In some communities, the waist beads were a symbol of femininity and sensuality used as a form of seduction.
Even today, different women wear these waist beads for different reasons, although less ritualistic as in the past. Many women wear them as waist trainers like many women long ago.
The beads worked this way by cautioning one of their weight gains. If a woman gained weight, then the bead would rise their waist, indicating that they needed to watch their weight.
If they lost weight then the beads would lie elegantly on their hips. Other reasons women wear this accessory as an aesthetic, fashionable accessory, or as an expression of their African heritage and connection to their roots.
Of course, some will wear them subtly under their everyday clothes and those who wear them openly.
What Is The Spiritual Meaning Of Waist Beads?
Despite being used mostly as a fashionable accessory; waist beads have a spiritual meaning too. In the past, they were more than just symbols of femininity, growth, and a rite of passage, but also spiritually believed to contain healing, rejuvenating, and protective properties.
Everything about their formation was intentional. Traditionally, a highly spiritual person was the one responsible for stringing the beads, and the materials, colors, and design were purposefully selected. The type of waist beads, a woman wore were different from the ones worn by a girl or infant.
The colors and materials especially held the most meaning. The color red for example represented courage, passion, and self-confidence.
Green represented prosperity, nature, abundance, healing, and harmony. Blue was a representation of loyalty and truth, while black represented power and protection.
Gold symbolized wealth, and good health, while purple beads were a sign of royalty, wisdom, and faith. Stones like rose quartz were also added to the waist beads for their love, compassion, and healing properties. Others like Hamsa and the evil eye were added to protect against evil, negativity, and bad luck.
Are Waist Beads Evil? Why?
No, waist beads are not evil. Like many other accessories, they are simply decorations that have been adorned by women, especially African women, since time immemorial.
Despite what most men would concur, waist beads are not some sort of charm made to ensnare them and force them to hand over all their money.
The vibrance and design of the beads not only add color but accentuate the slimness and curviness of a woman’s waist. If anything, it makes them more attractive and confident in their bodies not to mention helping them in managing their figure.
Surely, there can’t be anything evil in that. Even though in some cultures women wore the beads as tools of seduction, it was exclusively meant for their husbands or lovers, only they were allowed to see the beads on their waist. Not only that, but the beads are historically also a symbol of maturity and a woman’s growth.
Why A Lot Of People Think Waist Beads Are Evil?
If you have ever openly worn your waist beads then you can attest to the odd looks and expressions you may have received from a few people.
Over time there has been a misconception that waist beads are evil. Despite having originated from African cultures, the majority of African communities today see them as bad omens that promote witchcraft and prostitution.
Some believe that even in the past, some women would add traditional medicine and use them as charms to steal other women’s husbands. They said that if a man slept with a woman wearing waist beads, they would end up leaving their wives.
Of course, if you think about this rationally there is no truth to this statement, simply propaganda and subjective opinion. It may have stemmed from the fact that waist beads serve to make a woman appear more sensual and hence more attractive to a man.
Another reason people assume that waist beads, especially those made of cowry shells are evil, is because these shells were used in traditional rituals that most people view as witchcraft today.
Still, on the issue of materials used, there are waist beads that include crystals believed to help with healing and manifestation, which are practices belonging to new agism and considered demonic by religions such as Christianity.
What Does The Bible Say About Waist Beads?
It is no secret that many Christians firmly believe that waist beads are evil and any woman wearing them is diabolical. They believe that the waist beads were part of the demonic rituals performed in the past in African cultures.
Many of them state that women who wear these beads cannot be born again and are sinners bound to go to hell. They claim that their beliefs are based on what is written in the bible.
The bible has mentioned different forms of jewelry quite a few times. They include bracelets, anklets, earrings, even headdresses. But there is nowhere in the bible that specifically states anything, negative or positive about waist beads.
Still, Christians argue that the accessories mentioned are a representation of all forms of jewelry including waist beads. They especially anchor this belief on 1st Peter 3:3. Here, Peter, the Apostle states that women’s beauty should not be as a result of outward adornments but the hidden person in the heart. Therefore, wearing waist beads to them is seen as lustfulness.
Even with this logic, one would counter using the same bible that there is nothing wrong with adorning accessories like waist beads.
In Genesis 24:30, Rachel, Abraham’s servant was described as wearing a gold nose ring and bangles which was a normal tradition, in the same way, wearing waist beads was a normal African tradition.
In Exodus 12:35-36, through Moses, God instructed the Israelites to take articles of gold and silver from the Egyptians which included jewelry. Had they been sinful items then why would God instruct His people to take them?
And if Christians can be seen wearing earrings and watches among other accessories, do they not also count as outwardly adornment.
In summary, one can conclude that there is no scripture in the bible that specifically states that waist beads are evil and that those who wear them are sinners condemned to hell.
Can you Wear Waist Beads as a Christian?
While discussing whether or not waist bead are evil and Christians’ viewpoints, as a Christian, you must be asking yourself a few questions. Would it be okay to wear waist beads? Would you be committing a grave sin?
We have just established that the Bible in no way specifically warns against wearing beads. So, in that case, it would not be a sin for you to wear one.
Still, we feel that there are certain things you need to take into consideration, beginning with why you want to wear the beads in the first place.
Aside from their spiritual meaning, waist beads have many other functions including being great waist trainers and fashionable accessories. They are versatile and therefore can be adopted into any personality.
You should also fully understand the origin of waist beads and what they were used for originally. As an African, it could be a great way for you to reconnect with your heritage and roots.
What Does It Mean When Your Waist Beads Break?
Waist beads weren’t made to last an entire lifetime. Like other jewelry, they are bound to break at some point or the other. There are many reasons or meanings behind it.
Traditionally, if they were adorned by a child and broke, it was taken as a sign of growth. This meant that the child was transitioning into adulthood.
Today, these waist beads have adopted many purposes the main one being waist trainers. So, if yours were to break, it could be an indication that you have added on a bit of weight.
You can use it as a way of alerting you when you need a diet or exercise change. They are also used to train your posture because the bead fit differently based on your sitting position. So, the beads breaking could also be an indication of bad posture.
It is ironic how something that was once used as a protective charm in some African cultures, is today considered a bad omen.
But these beliefs are subjective and not factual. If you are thinking of getting yourself a set but are unsure, our best advice to you is to do your research.
Understand their origin, purpose, and meaning. That way you can easily define your purpose for wearing them and the meaning they have for you.
At the end of the day, like any accessory, waist beads are a way of self-expression, so it’s all about individual preference.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.