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Origin Of Waist Beads

The Yorubas in West Africa are known to have the most varied and peculiar reasons for using waist beads. Yoruba waist beads are also called Ileke, Jigida, and Lagidigba. They are worn mainly by females, from the littlest to the oldest.

These beads are made from small pieces of glass, nuts, wood, or metal which are pierced, stringed, and threaded together. These beads come in varying degrees of color, length, and even quality.


Decoration – Yoruba women wear waist beads to adorn their bodies. Waist beads are colourful, shiny and attractive just like any other modern accessory like a watch, earring or necklace. Waist beads are very feminine and women are encouraged to wear them from an early age.  Doing so is a way to symbolize and celebrate feminism and beauty. During traditional ceremonies, women wear extra number of beads to decorate themselves.


Sexual Attraction – Yoruba women wear waist beads because they believe it attracts the opposite sex and stirs deep emotional responses. The waist beads accentuate the figure and draw attention to the movement of the waist. It is believed that some women lace their waist beads with love spells to evoke deeper sexual attraction.


Contraception – waist beads are also believed to act as fertility beads which the woman use to determine her ovulation and avoid sexual intercourse with her husband.  It is also believed that the beads are sometimes laced with charms to prevent pregnancy.

Symbol of Love – waist beads are given to women as a token of love from a suitor, a husband or family. Parents can gift waist beads to their daughters to demonstrate the love and affection they have for them.


Weight Control – some women use the waist beads as a means of watching and controlling their weight. When the waist beads become tight, it probably means the woman is adding weight and needs to do something about the weight gain. When the waist beads become loose the woman is probably losing weight.