Beads are among Africa's most important and intruiging symbols. They have the largest variety of materials from glass to bone. The way that the beads are worn and the types of beads that are worn represents a perspective or sense of self by the wearer. Since it is believed to have an energy or purpose the African bead is considered an effective healing tool. As an African Jewelry Designer for many years I have had many customers come back and share some of their experiences while wearing the jewelry. Some of them have shared healing moments that occured while wearing my work. If we can think about how a crystal or stone is a natural element and compare it to the natural elements that I use to create the jewelry it is easy to see how my artwork (African Jewelry) offers healing benefits. Visit our website to check out the collection.
Kwanzaa is an African traditional designed to help people of African descent celebrate the first harvest. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. Although it was created for black people in The United States it is celebrated throughout the world. It is a time for reassessing, reaffirming and rewarding all that we have done in the past year. It is also a holiday that reflects our African culture.
Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days from December 26th till January 1st. Each day corresponds with the 7 days and has principals. Nugozo Saba is the name for the seven principals of Kwanzaa.
The first principal is on Dec. 26th and is Umoja (Unity). It means to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
The second principal is on Dec. 27th and is Kujichagulia (Self Determination). It means to define ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
The third principal is on Dec. 28th and is Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). It means to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and solve them together.
The fourth principal is on Dec. 29th and is Ujimaa (Cooperative Economics). It means to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
The fifth principal is on Dec. 30th and is Nia (Purpose). It means to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
The sixth principal is on Dec. 31st and is Kuumba (Creativity). It means to do always as much as we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it,
The seventh principal is on Jan. 1st and is Imani (Faith). It means to believe with all are hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
How To Prepare for Kwanzaa
Preperations for Kwanzaa should start a week in advance. You can begin too set out your symbols. The colors of Kwanzaa are from the Bendera Ya Taifa and is the flag of the black nation. The red represents the blood of our ancestors. Black is for the collective color of all black people. Green reminds us of the land, life and new ideas we must continue to obtain.
Kwanzaa has seven symbols. The first symbol is the Mkeke. It is the straw mat and represents our traditions and foundation upon which eveything rests. The second symbol is the Kinara. It is the candle holder and represents our roots, our African ancestors. The third symbol is the Mishumaa Saba. It is the seven candles and represents the seven principals in the Nugozo Saba. The fourth symbol of is the Kikombe Cha Umoja. It is the unity cup is used to pour libation and is a cup for us all to drink from as a unit in unity. The fifth symbol of Kwanzaa is the Mazao. It represents the crops or the fruits of our labor. The sixth symbol is the Muhindi. It is the corn and represents the children. Each ear of corn represents a child and the future that is attached to children. The seventh symbol is the Zawadi. It represents the gifts. Books or carvings are goos forms of Zawadi because they remind us of education in our own cultural heritage. Gifts can also be given during Kwanzaa that are handmade.
Frankincense is a resin that many of us is familiar with. Especially around the holidays and the Winter Solstice. I would like to begin by first explaining the origins of this sacred gift from Mother Nature. This resin is native to Somalia. In this part of Africa it is known as the Mohor tree. It has a distinct trunk and grows in stony soil. So it is common to see Frankincense growing near boulder bluffs. The inner resin secretes and that is how Frankincense is created.
In African tradition medicine Frankincense was used for treatments of skin diseases, inflammation and wound healing. It is used in religious ceremonies for spirit invocation and worn or burnt in the home to raise the vibration. The resin is generally eaten in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region as a tonic for the skin. But only the puriest form is considered edible.
Frankincense is also one of the gifts that the Three Wise Men gave to Jesus. This resin is considered holy among religions throughout the world. I just wanted to share some of the amazing benefits of this much loved resin. As an African Jewelry Artist I like to incorporate elements of high vibration into my work. Sometimes it is a challenge but always fun. In the pic above I created the chocker from Frankincense resin.
Peace, Love & Light
The African headwrap has become an exotic symbol and fashion statement probably at it's conception. Each headwrap gives the wearer a chance to express Africa and African fashion in their own unique way. However there is much more to the headwrap then the beautiful colors and fascinating style. There is a rich cultural history.
The headwrap originated in sub sahara Africa. It represents spirituality, prosperity and humility. Even men in Africa wear headwraps to symbolize wealth and social status. Headwrapping is literally a way that Africans for centuries have been able to non verbally communicate their place in life. Head wraps also serve as a practical function protecting the head from the rays of the sun. In West Africa headwraps are called Gele in Yoruba, Ichafu in Ibo and turbans in the Middle East. I hope that I have inspired you to go look up some of the other symbols and meanings of this exotic fashion statement.
The ankh is a symbol that is usually associated with Egypt but it was honored throughout Africa. It represents life itself. Signifying wisdom and insight on the highest levels. Fertility is also associated with this sacred symbol. When used as a fertility symbol it represents the union of the masculine and feminine energy which in turn creates life on the physical plane. If we were not fertile we would not be able to create the lives that we live. So fertility can be viewed in many different ways much like the Ankh. On the mental plane it represents the union of the left and right brain or the union of Heaven and Earth. There have been many books written about the Ankh so go out and read about all the interesting things that this beloved African symbol means!
The tradition of African waistbeads were made popular by the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. The were worn a symbols of womanhood, fertility, protection and spirituality. In history these beads are recorded to have been worn as early as the 15th century to serve many celebratory purposes including rites of passage. Sometimes beads are worn as a status symbol when they are outside the clothes. When worn inside the clothes or without clothes they are symbols to a husband or lover.
It is common for women in Ghana to wear waist beads as ornaments, as well as for symbolic adornment, which serves as a sign of wealth, femininity or aristocracy, as well as spiritual well-being. During Ghanaian naming ceremonies, babies are typically adorned with waist beads, while young adults also wear beads around their waists and on their hips during puberty rites as a portrayal of femininity. These beads are believed to possess the power to attract as well as evoke deep emotional responses.
Many Ghanaian women will tell you that they use their waist beads to shape their waist. It is believed that the practice of wearing multiple waist beads over time will help to keep the waist small and accentuate the hips. Since traditional waist beads are strung on cotton cord (and without a clasp/hook) they can be a good tool to measure weight gain and loss. They will not stretch; they will either break or continue to roll up the waist when weight has been gained. Similarly, they will roll down or eventually become so loose they will fall off when weight has been lost.
Don’t be fooled by photos of only slender women wearing waist beads. Women of all shapes and sizes can confidently adorn themselves with waist beads as well. Because traditionally beads are worn along your panty or bikini line and not your actual waist it allows for all women to comfortably wear waist beads no matter their size. Wearing them is really a personal reflection and appreciation for your God-given beauty.
Ways To Stick To Your Accessories Budget
Do you like to shop but need to keep it under control? Well I don’t think your are alone in this love/hate relationship with keeping your wardrobe fly. I have put together 4 basic rules that I follow and want to share with you. Below is my list.
- Give yourself a clothing and accessories allowance. You should use 5-10% of your take home pay for your personal and professional wardrobe. Put the money aside each time you get paid. You could even shop every other month that way you will be able to spend more in one go.
- Invest in versatile pieces. Look for staples that you can wear to work, at night and on weekends. Like a pair of beige pumps or statement necklace. The key is to look for classic and eccentric pieces that flatter your signature style.
- Treat yourself to small luxuries. Little things like lipstick will make you less tempted to splurge on something big outside of your budget. It will still keep your everyday look refreshed and exciting.
- Keep track of your progress. Write down where your money is going every month and keep the list somewhere you can see everyday. I actually downloaded an app from the app store earlier this year that I use to budget my family’s monthly bills. It has been a big help since using it my life has been much easier. I included my own personal budget for shopping. It may sound unbelievable but I have been able to shop more this year than I have in the past three years. And it is all because I am budgeting. I hope this inspires you!
Traditional African Jewelry
There are many tell tale signs when it comes to African style. One is wearing african jewelry in sets. It is very common to see most women who enjoy authentic african jewelry to purchase more than one of these accessories at a time. One tip to remember when wearing african jewelry sets is to use one piece to compliment the other. Make sure not to wear big african earrings and a statement african necklace at the same time. They are not suppose to overpower each other. The next time that you are out shopping african jewelry play with the shapes, sizes, textures and designs to what you can create. It saves time when you know what you are going to wear and makes you feel good when you walk out of the door.
African jewelry designer Sheinata Carn-Hall talks about african clothing and african accessories for Summer Music Festivals.
I have always been an accessories lover. Some of my high school classmates can share with you how I always loved to have on jewelry and paired them with my outfits each and everyday. As I have moved through many experiences in my life one thing that I definately know about my personal style is that simple outfits work great for me. I pop on a bright colored shirt, jeans or shoes and layer the jewelry. It is so much fun to create from a blank canvas each day. A canvas that is totally my own and it is very liberating. I am sharing this because almost everyone loves African jewelry and clothes but there are still a tiny group who are attracted to it but cannot figure out how to wear it and feel comfortable. If you start creating the look with a simple outfit I am sure that you will come up with some outfits that you like. Remember it's about how you feel, how you want to project your personal style and being at peace with yourself from the inside out.