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Hair Accessories: Beads

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Beads are in, or rather, just making their way back to us. For centuries beads have been worn as accessories, shown as works of art and used as currency.

In the past, beads had a more significant meaning. They told a story and described a situation. Without the use of words, a person could ascertain the social situation within a community or family. According to marques.co.za, "traditionally, certain beaded items were worn to distinguish young girls from their more senior sisters, to identify girls engaged to be married, or to adorn brides and young mothers after the birth of their first children."

Archaic Human BeadsArchaic Human African Hair Braiding BeadsArchaic Human Beads

The colour combinations and the geometric designs formed an unspoken language expressing ideas, feelings and relations between sexes.

Archaic Human African Hairstyle"As early as the 15h century, hair was the main disseminator among different tribes and within communities of marital status, age, wealth, and rank on the social hierarchy within a community or tribe," says africa.com.

One of the most popular beaded hairstyles today is derived from the Woodabe Tribe of the Sahel Region and West Africa, a subgroup of the Fulani Tribe. "The young girls and women of the tribe wear a braided hairstyle similar to Fulani women, consisting of two braids on either side of the head or a few braids on their hair and a coiffure in the middle. The hair is usually decorated with beads and cowrie shells."

The history of beads is long and rich. It is a whole other world that can be discovered. For now, we celebrate our deep history, and like the men and women before us, we adorn ourselves with beads and tell our personal story.

Do certain beads have a significant meaning to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image 2: @dancehallfinesse

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