Ileke or Jigida Yoruba African Waist Beads symbolize body sculpting, sexuality, and femininity.
Waist Bead tradition of the Southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo Yoruba Tribes
Beads are among the most interesting symbols in Yoruba African culture. The colors and sizes, the significance of the materials chosen for waist are subjective; the person making the waist Beads symbolize their perception, experience, feelings, beliefs, desires, and influence.
Traditionally unmarried women of the Yoruba tribe wear an ileke also known as waist beads or waist chains. Waist beads are romantic, fashionable and attract attention to the waist by making the waist appear slimmer and bringing out the curves of the hips.
Waist beads were and still are worn for seduction. For some, the beads possess intimate appeal and can provoke desire in men.
|Making waist beads|
Some women use waist beads to watch their weight, as in when it is tight on them they will know that they are gaining weight. Unlike clothing, the strings do not stretch; they break or roll up the waist with increased girth. So in an absence of scales as a means of weight measurement
By tradition, waist beads were made of natural materials however, modern times have seen waist beads produced from synthetic materials like glass and plastic.
It is considered distasteful when waist beads are shown in public. In many cultures the waist beads symbolized a young woman’s purity and were only to be taken off by her husband on their wedding night. Most waist beads are worn under clothing and are a private affair.