Waist beads have been a cultural tradition in African countries since the 15th century where they served spiritual and celebratory purposes. Also known as waist bracelets, waist chains or belly beads, these ornaments can convey great meaning as a sign of status, mood or mating signals.
In modern times, these ornaments can be worn by any ethnicity or culture for spiritual healing purposes, decorative adornment, empowerment and confidence building as well as sensuality and weight loss tracking.
Waist Beads Heritage
While waist beads have become a world-wide adornment, often seen in Indian and Asian culture, but traditionally have been ascribed to African roots.
These beads were used for intimate occasions and increase sensuality. Waist beads signified fertility or, in a similar fashion, were used to increase fertility by being worn by women when they are trying to conceive.
Often they were used as signs that a woman has achieved marriage age and could now have suitors.
While anyone could attribute any meaning they wanted to the colors of the beads, some colors have rose to mean specific things for certain tribes and sets of people.
- Purple – Spirituality and wisdom. Similar to Europe, the purple color would often represent royalty and high status due to the rarity of this color.
- Pink – Care, beauty and kindness
- Orange and Red – vitality, courage and social aggressiveness
- Blue – trust and loyalty
- Black – power and protection
- Yellow – Energy and happiness
- White – light and truth
- Turquoise – self awareness
- Green – nature and fertility
- Gold – health and wealth
- Brown – earth and stability
The beads could be used to track weight and serve as a mental reminder to literally “watch your waist” to prevent overeating.
Interestingly, in modern times, it has been making a bit of a comeback as some weight loss companies try to bring back a type of “weigh loss waist chain” with the same idea.
As your waist expands through eating, the waist bead serves as a gentle reminder to be mindful of your eating and can also serve as measure of weight during times when bathroom scales were not available.
Summary: Waist Beads
Beads worn around the waist have been used in African and other parts of the world as part of women’s decor as well as tools of fertility, signs of maturity as well as for romantic and sensual ends.
Both in ancient and modern times women have used this as a way to keep mindful of their weight.