The Beauty of Beads on African Traditional Attire - The Nigerian Perspective

by on September 14, 2017

Today, we will be writing about the Nigerian Coral Beads; an unavoidable component of a complete traditional outfit.

The use of the Coral beads in Nigeria cuts across ethnicity, and diverse cultures, in the country, as the Igbos, Yorubas, and the Hausas have their respective versions and application of beads in their traditional or ceremonial outfits.

In the African continent, as evident among the Zulus of South Africa, beads are of great significance, and also, deeply rooted in respective African traditional cultures. Hence, almost all countries in Africa have one form of beads representation or the other, in their traditional cultures.

In Nigeria for instance, the traditional regalia of Kings, Chiefs, Queens, Princes and Princesses, will not be complete without beads. It epitomizes kingship and royalty.

As time and civilization birthed a relatively new world and generation, the Coral beads gradually became common among the rich and famous in the society. Some people put it on as an act of ethnic patriotism, e.g. the Igbo tribe of Eastern Nigeria.

This article will not be complete if we fail to point out that the Coral bead is also an important component of a couple’s outfit during a traditional marriage ceremony in Nigeria, although with slight differences and modifications across various ethnic cultures, ethics, and creed.

  • The Igbo Brides;

The Igbo tribe is primarily found in the Eastern part of Nigeria. They are known to be very enterprising and innovative people. Hence, you won’t doubt their ability to dominate the Coral beads production and sales market. Almost all Igbo families have one or two readily available bead in their homes. Hence, a traditional marriage ceremony is a perfect opportunity for men and women/invitees to appear in very beautiful traditional attires adorned with hand crafted Coral beads.

The Igbo bride- Ada Nna or Ada Nne, always appear regal in her traditional outfit, well garnished with Coral beads for the neck, hands, waist, and legs. A look at her will automatically spur up your interest in getting your own Igbo bride.

We will write extensively on marriage cultures and procedures in Nigeria, on a later date.

  • The Yoruba Bride;

The Aso-oke; a cultural attire in the Yoruba land, cannot be missing in a couple’s outfit during a Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony.

Other beautiful fabrics such as Damask, Lace, Cotton, and Ankara can also be used, but in combination with the Aso-oke. We will not also fail to write about the beautiful Gele- head gear, which accords women that perfect African traditional look and feel.

However, all above mentioned outfits will not be complete without beautifully made Coral beads-mostly hand crafted.

The use of beads does not end with the Igbos or the Yorubas.

  • The Hausas have their versions of the Coral beads which are often used for special occasions too.
  • In Edo State of Nigeria; beads on a bride’s neck known as the Ivie-uru, the Ivie-obo on their hands, the beaded ear rings, waist beads, and ones for the bride’s legs, are very common, and compulsory traditional practice. The Edo traditional marriage ceremony is truly a buffet for the eyes.
  • The Ijaws, Kalabari, and notably the Anioma people of Delta state are not left out. They also flourish traditional outfits garnished with beautiful Coral beads.

In Nigeria therefore, it is correct or safe to say that beads is one of the untold unifying symbols, as it is used in all three major ethnic groups, and in other sub cultures within the country.

Also, beads are now used in making hand bags, waist belts, ladies shoes, etc.


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