Adinkra Waist Beads

Here’s a little story about the power of adinkra symbols.
About two years ago, a young woman came to visit me to purchase some waist beads. As she viewed the selection, she became excited when she saw a set of amethyst waist beads adorned with the gye nyame adinkra symbol. “What’s this?” she asked.
I explained an adinkra is a West African symbol, and each one presents a cultural message or wisdom. The gye nyame represents the power of Spirit with the message, “I fear no one but God.”
“Wow,” said young woman. “I never knew that!”
She then showed me the gye nyame she had tattooed on her shoulder! “You got that tattoo without knowing what it meant?” I asked, amazed.
“I got it about 6 months ago and the artist wasn’t sure of its meaning
,” she replied. “But I was drawn to it. I just liked the way it looked.” The adinkra’s meaning couldn’t have been revealed at a more appropriate time because she was experiencing a life-threatening illness and needed her courage.
Somehow our ancestors knew.

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Click here for adinkra waistbeads by Wrap and Soul

WRAP AND SOUL’S GIVE-BACK PROJECT

Alice Monje’s loan bought chicks and now she runs a thriving chicken business with the help of her entire family. Allen Namerome’s loan started a bean and grain trading business; profits allowed her to buy cows and other livestock that vastly improve her family’s nutrition. Joy Nangalama started a fish business with her loan and switched to selling beer, to operating a motorcycle taxi, to leasing out a chain saw to stay profitable and one step ahead of the competition.

These women all benefitted from loans provided by WMI, the US-based Women’s Microfinance Initiative.  This wonderful organization provides loans to impoverished women in rural East Africa, giving them the opportunity to start their own businesses. With the revenues generated from these micro-enterprises, the women are able to raise the standard of living for their families and helping to make their futures more secure. As of January 2016, WMI had issued 25,000 loans totaling $3.5 million to women in more than 1,000 villages in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

For more information go to: http://wmionline.org

Wrap and Soul has been supporting the U.S.-based organization WMI (Women’s Microfinance Initiative) since the last quarter of 2016. WRAP AND SOUL GIVE-BACK PROJECT! When customers purchase ** Five African Waist Beads On Special Sale For $25 ** a portion of the payment – 15 percent – will be donated to the US-based Women’s Microfinance Initiative.

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Check out this other specials at etsy.com/shop/wrapandsoul!!!

 

Greetings

My name is Moon. I have been making and selling waist beads for 12 years and I never grow tired of it. I harness the power of crystal gemstones and African and Egyptian symbols to make my waist beads potent and unique.

I was introduced to waist beads a little over a decade ago by Queen Afua, the renowned healer, author and Sacred Woman from Brooklyn. She explained that almost every country in Africa has a tradition of assigning various meanings to this adornment.

In her book, Sacred Woman, Queen Afua writes that among some nations waist beads were given to young girls at puberty by their older kinswomen as a symbol of her womanhood and power. “They were used only for lovemaking; only a woman’s husband saw these beads… after death they [were] laid in her coffin along with the rest of her clothing required for proper burial.”

Through the ages, the color of the beads or the pattern of beadwork may signify a woman’s status as a maiden, mother, widow or elder. Waist beads were always on her,  protecting the wearer during menstruation, courtship and childbirth.

A QUEEN’S GIRDLE 

Under Queen Afua’s gentle instruction I created my first waist beads, and since then, I have never been without a string of beads, pearls, or gemstones around my hips. Like cornrows,  bangles, spicy food and the drumbeat, waist beads are another aspect of our culture that just feels right.They are a continual affirmation of the beauty of my body and my heritage. I felt their gentle positive influence during times of stress, in hostile corporate environments and when I was unwell. They always remind me of how much we as Black women have endured and how we have persevered, keeping our dignity and divine power.

HOW TO WEAR WRAP AND SOUL WAISTBEADS

 

Your WRAP AND SOUL waist beads are made up of  a belt and a chain. The belt is the string of seedbeads, crystals or semi-precious gems and beads. Each gem or crystal exudes a powerful energy.  Pewter beads,  meaningful charms and symbols on the belt are also a hallmark of Wrap and Soul. They are strung on a soft coated wire that is tested to hold up under 100 pounds of tension. Attached to one end of the belt is six inches of chain.  The lobster claw clasp on the other end of the belt can hook onto the any link of the chain giving you the option of making it tighter or looser depending on where you want  your beads to hang on your body.

WE LOVE BELLIES

The most comfortable way of wearing waist beads is under your belly, about where bikini panties would sit on your hips. Most waist beads women wear their beads traditionally, under their clothes against their skin. It’s worth mentioning here that Wrap and Soul waist beads are designed to withstand the friction clothing, yet remain comfortable against your skin.

Some women may  wear them over their clothes, to adorn  a long skirt or  dress or against their skin while wearing  a cropped top or low -rise jeans.

However, waist beads are not about not about whether or not you have a flat stomach or six-pack abs. They are not about highlighting the thickness of your waist or the bulge of your belly or span of your hips.

Waist beads have a completely different energy. They tell the story of your womb. They remind you that the curve of your hips and belly are what makes you a woman. They also tell the tale of the daughters of the African Diaspora- of traditions lost and then recaptured. They symbolize the beauty of women who soar.

WHEN TO WEAR YOUR WAIST BEADS

WRAP AND SOUL waist beads can be worn all  the time, day and night,  as long as you have no allergies. Make sure the findings, made from base metal or pewter, and the stones and gem chips cause no skin reactions. I also scout antique shops for vintage beads, so you may have a very old unique adornment on your waist beads. But if everything is fine, you can even shower with your beads on. Soap can sometimes coat and dull the beads, but if that happens simply take them off, rinse with clear water and buff back to their original sparkle with a soft cloth.

CLEAR YOUR CRYSTALS

Some wearers believe that “clearing” the gemstones before wearing them removes any residual negative energy from previous handlers. To “clear” your WRAP AND SOUL waist beads, leave outside in direct sunlight or moonlight for 24 hours.

 REMINDER

WRAP AND SOUL waist beads are one-of-a-kind. If the clasp or chain breaks, we can repair for it for a small fee. However, if the belt breaks it cannot be repaired. The most common way the belt breaks is in a bathroom scenario- that is, the wearer needs to use the bathroom urgently, goes to pull down her underwear and inadvertently hooks her thumb into the beads- and yanks- breaking the wire and busting the belt.

Click here for WRAP AND SOUL WAIST BEADS

OUR SECRET TOPS VICTORIA’S

Our grandmothers were on to something. They knew what they were doing… Wearing waist beads is sexier than being totally nude. Ask any woman who wears them…Better yet, ask her man. Can I get an Amen?

Peace,

Moon

The Power To Make Things Happen

By Takara Beathea-Gudell

While hunting through a mountain of necklaces to pop color into my daily black attire, I started thinking of the commonalities and complexities that exist within ethnic ritual jewelry. The meaning of color combinations, bones, sinew, beads, glass, amber and hand-hammered metals. The creativity of the findings that lock the artistry in place, the knotted strings and waxed threads.

I recall sewing bells into the hems of my skirts that created a faint sensual sound as I left the room. A vial of patchouli oil that hung from my waist beads exploded with scent from my body’s warmth. Lockets with tear-stained secret prayers folded and tucked between hammered copper disc bound with worn leather shoe laces. Oh, I was a praying, consulting Sista!

Rituals created with beads soaked in various oils and passed along with the sweetness of protection. Healing stones taped in my navel to protect and clean my chakras. Those were the days of my youth, wrapping cobalt blue beads around the necks of deities as offerings to my ancestors. An exclusive invitation to consult and be cradled in the arms of Oshun and Yemaja. Oshun in the Yoruba religion, is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God. Oshun reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. Yemaja, also a deity in the Yoruba religion, is the ocean, the essence of motherhood, and a fierce protector of children.

oshun:yemaya

 

In my oddity, I began to think of culture, style and fashion and how it’s interpreted in our lives. Our expressions with talismans and rosaries? A silent interchange, a glance, a stare, a nod of appreciation? I’ve stood in front of a mirror and changed my necklaces several times, asking myself, how will I be perceived throughout the day? Is it too much, too strong, does it have a flow? What message am I sending with its bold, esoteric value?

In my maturity, I begin to contemplate the importance of collective womanhood. Purging things lacking substance and considering passing my collection on as family heirlooms to loved ones.

How does one begin to make an impact in a world using technology that has created distance and a false sense of connection? A post here, Instagram there, and we feel as if we’ve made strong connections.

It’s time to pass along messages to our youth about the importance of connections, social issues, and value of human life. The slightest gesture can last a lifetime and help to redefine the life they’re experiencing. What ritual can you create today, enhancing and empowering within fashion, style and cause?

While researching, I discovered a company creating “Fashion For a Cause,” International Sanctuary, a social entrepreneurship that sells handcrafted jewelry under the label iSanctuary. Each label carries the artisan’s name, names that aren’t known to the fashion industry. They are survivors of human trafficking. Let’s use our spending and fashion power to change the world. Reach back, above and below and pull someone closer. Visit: http://www.iSanctuary.org.

In 1978, I can recall that a cleaning woman named Narcissis in her 70s worked in the shadows of our office where she and I were the only brown women. She was the past and I was the future, and we coexisted. Often glancing at one another and nodding, rarely stopping for conversation — after all, I was part of the sales force, and I was moving on up!

One snowy day she approached me as she was emptying my wastebasket and shoved a paper towel in my hand and softly tapped. With my furled brow, I quickly put it in my purse and walked briskly to the restroom. Unfolding the neatly presented gift, I discovered a gold, emerald-encrusted bracelet. It took my breath away. I was stunned by its beauty and why she made the decision to pass such a heirloom to virtually an unknown stranger.

I rewrapped the gift and returned to my desk with a rapidly beating heart. Though I awaited my opportunity to say thank you, Narcissis never returned to work. I later learned she had passed away; and to this day, I still have the paper-towel-gift-wrapped bracelet. Occasionally, I come across it in my treasures and think what it took for Narcissis to pass me that gift and the meaning associated. I never knew; I can only think that it was one of love and appreciation between two brown women, one with a life long lived and one with a life filled with promise.

Àse is a Yoruba concept that signifies the power to make things happen and change. It is given by Olodumare (the Creator) to everything — Gods, ancestors, spirits, humans, animals, plants, rocks, rivers, and voiced words such as songs, prayers, praises, curses, or even everyday conversation.

So I dedicate this article to Narcissis who worked in the shadows of our office and watched and protected me with her silent prayers.

Àse, Narcissis.

Takara Beathea-Gudell is owner/operator of Takara, a women’s clothing store in Oak Park. This first appeared at gardenspices.org, an online magazine.

Waistbeads Among The Yoruba

FROM: ngrguardiannews.com

By Alloysius Nduka Duru

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THE use of beads especially waist beads in Nigeria is widespread across the various nationalities that make up the nation. There are similarities and peculiarities in their usage. However, the Yorubas developed the most varying and peculiar uses for waist beads. The Yorubas have developed a culture of bead usage that cuts across both material and spiritual aspects of the life of the people. In addition, they have also the capacity to produce the beads for varying purposes ranging from royalty, body adornment, deification and decoration.

The Yorubas are found in the southwest geopolitical delineation of present-day Nigeria. They are a vibrant and social people who accentuate their way of life in their day-to-day activities.

Beads are usually small round piece of glass, wood, metal or nut, pierced for stringing. They are either used for adornment such as the waist, neck, ankle or as decorative ornament in art work or even for royalty.

The art of beading is serial in process and serrated in composition. It has a step-by-step or one-by-one approach in stringing and when traded together, the beads stand for unity, togetherness and solidarity.

Beads of the waist are believed to posses the power to attract and evoke deep emotional responses; they are a sign of success and affluence as well as spiritual well being.

The origin of the Nigerian beads is still speculative due to its fragility portability and popularity.

Beads have been traded and used since time immemorial. However, the earliest known African beads are traced to Libya and Sudan. In Nigeria, the Nok terracottes and Igb Ukwu art display the use of beads in those societies as early as 500 B.C., however there is no concrete statement of origin to the beads.

A common usage of the item is for adornment especially on the waist. There is however varying purpose for which people adorn the waist beads.

Waistbeads are mostly worn by women folk, only in exceptional theatrical perform will a man adorn waistbeads to symbolize feminism. The waistbeads are synonymous with feminism.

The Yorubas have esteemed usage attached to the waistbeads. They refer to the waist bead as Ileke, “lagidigba” the term lagidigba means something big, thick or massive. The lagidigba is made of palm nut shells string together, while the bebe is made of glass.

The Yorubas have a belief that the waist beads posses some erotic appeal; they have the power to provoke desire or deep emotional response on the opposite sex.

Waist beads are also used by the Yoruba for birth control; the beads are laced with charms and worn by the women to prevent conception.

Beads are a precious ornaments to the Yorubas, hence when adorned by a women, accentuates her feminism or beauty. Beads also helps to portray the chastity of a maiden or women sensuality. Parent show their love for their girl child through gifts of waist beads that are colourful and expensive.

The lagidigba or palm nut shell beads is used for fecundity purposes. The nuts signify multiple births as they are in clusters, thus one can infer the high incidence of multiple births in Yoruba land to the usage of the lagidigba bead.

Brides seduce their spouses with the beads they adorn; some women are said to lace their beads with charms to make them irresistible to the male folks. The Yorubas can easily comment on a women’s moral standing by interpretation of the movement of the waist bead she wears. The way she moves her buttocks can depict her morals as either seductive or reserved.46b8_2

The Yorubas have a popular saying: “It is the beads that makes the buttocks to shake.”

Other users of the waist beads in Yoruba land are the Orisas or devotes of water deities and other priestesses, they adorn the waist beads for protection against spiritual attacks as well as part of their dress regalia.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

TO BE CONTINUED

Announcing Passages – Exciting New Line of Waistbeads!

Greetings Sisters!

Today, I am excited to announce the launch of a new line of waistbeads in the Wrap and Soul Etsy store – Passages.

The Passages line honors three important events in a woman’s life – the beginning of her menstrual cycle, child birth, and the end of her menstrual cycle. The waistbeads are called “First Moon,” “Baby Love” and “Her Majesty” respectively.

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First Moon

The concept behind Passages is in keeping with my philosophy that crystal gemstones enhance your life energy. The sheer beauty of the stones, combined with the wonderfully feminine waistbeads tradition, makes Wrap and Soul creations so unique.

Traditionally, a woman’s kinfolk would present her with waistbeads to mark her extraordinary passages through life. Here in the Diaspora, it is a pleasure to re-create these rituals and give them the meaning and beauty they deserve.

The “First Moon” waistbeads are for young girls. They are created with tiny white moonstone beads with a sprinkle of purple amethysts. They shimmer like a thin ribbon of moonbeams, a reflection of the innocence of a girl entering womanhood.

Moonstone is a gentle feminine stone that is believed to protect the health of women and girls. It is said to regular hormone and helps sync the female reproductive system, alleviating menstrual problems, balancing the hormonal system and eliminating fluid retention. Moonstone also works to repair skin problems and creates beneficial dreams. Its connection with the lunar cycle, eases her transition from girlhood into womanhood.

The purple amethyst adds a healing element to the First Moon waist beads. It calms and balances emotional upsets, offers protection and self-love. It is a deeply spiritual stone that brings courage and peace to the wearer.

As an added bonus, Wrap and Soul will include instructions for care and wear of waistbeads and explain the honor and tradition.

The second set of waistbeads in the Passages line, “Baby Love” are for expectant mothers.

With these waistbeads, a mother-to-be can surround her unborn baby with the energy of amethyst, the most healing, loving and spiritual gemstone of them all, and at the same time honor and adorn her beautiful, blossoming body. These waistbeads also feature moonstone believed to protect female health and childbirth.

“Baby Love” has pretty pewter charms (optional) that herald the little one’s arrival – an angel, a stork, or ankh (the Egyptian symbol for LIFE) or a baby carriage.

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“Baby Love”

As an added bonus, Wrap and Soul will resize the waistbeads free of charge after the baby has been born!

The last of the line is my favorite: “Her Majesty,” in honor of the beauty of our elder sisters.

Her Majesty” waistbeads are created with gemstone crystals known to assist in balancing hormonal changes, clarifying and strengthening mental capabilities and cooling hot flashes.

The crystals used are moonstone, citrine and smoky quartz. This combination of gemstones also helps with focus and concentration (citrine), calm emotional triggers (moonstone) and absorb waves of internal body heat (smoky quartz).

In addition to the pretty stones, the waistbeads are enhanced by tiny pewter shield beads, a pewter bead inscribed with BLESSED and a yin-yang pewter bead, to remind the wearer that the mysteries of womanhood come with both effort and ease.

As an added bonus, while they last you can personalize your waistbeads with an alphabet letter charm – choose the first letter of your name or that of someone you love. Limited letters available.

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“Her Majesty”

For more information and lots more waistbeads, go to Wrap and Soul.