Waist beads are traditional accessories made from seeds, glass beads or crystal stones worn around the waist. Waist beads have been worn by African women as a symbol of femininity and prosperity for centuries and it is believed to have been in existence since the 15th century.
The chemical composition of glass beads and their morphological characteristics can reveal where they come from. Archaeologists from the University of Geneva analyzed glass beads found at rural sites in Mali and Senegal from between the 7th and 13th centuries AD. The scientists demonstrate that the glass they are made of probably came from Egypt, the Levantine coast and the Middle East. The results show that international trade linking Africa to Europe and Asia during was connected with local and regional trade.
In recent years, we have seen the influx of African print clothing in mainstream fashion. As a fashionista with deep African roots from Ghana, adorning these uniquely authentic pieces like African print dresses is almost like a second nature.
For me, being born in the United States, I feel like I’ve always [tried to] integrate African culture [into my style]
Cyndi Amankwatia, the owner of African Braids and Beauty in Dandenong, says a hairdresser’s ability to connect with her customers is almost as important as the hairstyle itself.