As adventurers and explorers, we believe an object without a story is meaningless – even something as small and simple as a bead.
Beads and beaded objects have a profound place in African history. These small, unassuming items have become representative of wealth and status, pride and beauty. Cherished by their forefathers, they have created many cultural symbols and are used as currencies or for exchange purposes.
40 million people belong to the Yoruba ethnic group of Nigeria and Benin, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Traditionally, they are some of the most skilled craftsmen in Africa, whose beads were crafted from powdered glass. From decorative purposes to protective charms, beads are a sign of social status among Yoruba rulers, believed to have connected them with the gods.
The Yoruba crown, an elaborate headdress, is worn by newly declared leaders to hide their face from the public. They signify a shared destiny and continuation of the monarch. Worn on ceremonial occasions, the crowns allow the wearer to take on supernatural abilities. These crowns are often adorned with birds, which in legend, had significance to the first king, Odùduwà.
Made from thousands of tiny beads, these works of art take months to create. Traditionally used by the Yoruba kings and queens, the different designs denote strength, wisdom, and power. They are handmade, and true historical works of art.
Originating from the Namji tribe in Cameroon, these beaded dolls are hand-carved from African rosewood and adorned with multicoloured beads, metal pieces, and cowrie shells.
With their striking features, Namji dolls’ looks are as varied as the cultural purposes they serve. Traditionally used as fertility dolls, they are carried by women until she conceives. They are also passed down and used in a similar fashion, so that young girls can learn about the responsibility of motherhood.
Ghanaian Glass Beads:
These recycled glass beads are made by the Krobo tribe in Ghana, where glass is compressed into a dry grain and then heated to form each bead. A leaf stem is used to make the hole, and when baked in a furnace, the glass melts together, and the leaf burns away: a traditional African process that has been used for centuries to make recycled glass beads.
Stylish and simple, these items add elegance to any outfit and are perfect on a stand as a collector’s piece. From the antique to the modern, the bead has been transformed into an internationally accepted timeless commodity, representing prestige and beauty.