Symbolism and Meaning in Handmade African Jewelry

Traditional beads use various materials such as horn, glass, bone, shells, and fossils. The color, size, placement on the body, the orientation of bead patterns, and other factors influence what the beads symbolize. The meaning of size and style varies from tribe to tribe and country to country in Africa.

In the past, African tribes have used beads to represent wealth, beauty, culture, and tradition. Particular beads can indicate strength, marital status, coming of age, and becoming a successful warrior. You can also see the use of beads in sacred ceremonies and African art even today.

As you wear your handmade African jewelry from The Curious Tour, you can think about what the color and style mean to you. After all, you picked it for a reason.

What the Shape and Color of Handmade African Jewelry Mean

The shape, color and orientation of beadwork have significance in Zulu culture. Shapes typically represent gender and marital status, as follows:

  • An upward-facing triangle represents a girl.
  • A downward-facing triangle represents a boy.
  • A diamond represents a married woman.
  • Two triangles facing each other in an hourglass shape represent a married man.

Similarly, every color has its own meaning. Although not all sources agree on the significance, the Zulus in South Africa may have matched these colors and sentiments when making handmade African bracelets and necklaces:

  • Black represents marriage and rebirth, but it also represents sadness and death.
  • Blue represents faithfulness, the sky, the sea, but it also represents hostility.
  • Yellow represents the color of the sun and gardening, but it also represents thirst and badness.
  • Green represents contentment and discord.
  • Pink represents high status as well as poverty.
  • Red represents love and heartache.
  • White represents spiritual love and purity but has no negative component.

Buy Handmade African Bracelets and Necklaces to Support the Mdukatshani Craft Project

As part of the Mdukatshani Craft Project, craftswomen from Msinga work to produce the highest-quality necklaces and bracelets. From the Aida Collection of beaded bracelets in purples and intense colors to the neutral range of the Pedi Bangles Collection, you’ll find lovely selections to adorn your wrists.

There are dozens of necklace styles, colors, and materials, both modern and traditional, to help you update your accessories. Don’t miss the background story that comes with each curated piece featured in The Curious Tour collection of handmade African jewelry.

Contact us online for more information on our products and order the perfect piece for your personality today.