6 Stunning Types of Beads used in Nigerian Culture

Types of beads used in Nigerian Culture
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Ekaaro fashionistas and welcome. Quick question: who likes beads? Beads in Nigeria, or any African country,  is like a big deal. Why? Because it depicts a significance in Nigerian Culture. And so, without further ado, join me as we discuss 6 stunning types of beads used in Nigerian culture.

What are beads?

Crafters make beads from stone, bone, shell, glass, plastic, wood, or pearl in various sizes and shapes, drilling a small hole for threading or stringing them. Furthermore, they are decorative pieces used to adorn bodies, bags, shoes, crafts, etc. However, in Nigeria, beads can be symbolic as they represent our diverse cultures. Different ethnic groups in the country make use of the same and different kinds 0f beads to adorn their people for different reasons. As I am in the Yoruba ethnic group, we wear beads mostly to signify beauty, marriage, chieftaincy, and royalty amongst others.

There was an event that usually took place in my primary school when I was younger. The school designates a day as ‘Cultural Day’. This is where everyone dresses in their traditional attire. They would then participate in various activities like dance, drama, and crafts of different cultures. Amongst these dressing styles, the bead is one of the most used adornments that depicted each person’s culture. I won’t lie, I looked good whenever I used the beads to compliment my traditional attire (lol, wink). We would wear the beads in different ways. For example, the Igbos would wear their waist beads, head beads, and neck beads. In short, everywhere would be colorful and beautiful.

Here are 5 types of beads used in Nigeria Culture:

1. Coral beads

People cut and carve corals to make coral beads. Living and non-living organisms secrete carbonate that forms corals, which solidify over time. People harvest corals, cut them, and polish them into cabochons. Then, they carve the cabochons into beads. Okay, honestly when I first saw this I was like “what the heck?”. But it turns out the beads end up looking beautiful.

Types of Beads 9 Types of Beads 11 Types of Beads 14

In Nigeria, almost all ethnic groups use coral beads for any occasion. The most common coral beads in Nigeria are red, pink, orange, and black beads. They signify dominance, power, royalty, and beauty in many ethnic groups, especially the Benin people. In Benin, the coral bead has solidified its importance as it can be seen woven into many of its crafts, pieces of jewelry, and accessories. The royals in Benin mostly wear red coral beads to signify their power. Other ethnic groups also use red coral beads mostly for their royalty and chieftaincy titles.

2. Glass beads

Glass beads are made of silica and other minerals melted at a high temperature to form a thick, viscous liquid. People mold the liquid into the desired shape, and it hardens as it cools.

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Honestly, I love glass beads because they come in various colors. However, in Nigeria, people traditionally use white (transparent), red, green, blue, and yellow glass beads. Although people can make different types of beads from glass and other materials. Glass beads in Nigeria symbolize power, facilitate trade, and enable ornamentation.


The Yoruba people in Nigeria mostly use glass beads for adorning their hair and jewelry. Honestly, I prefer to use the glass beads as a necklace or hair bead. I recently made braids with my hair and added glass beads to it. It was beautiful (wink).

3. Seed beads

The most common material used in the making of seed beads is glass. Ceramics and metals are other materials from which seed beads can be made. Seed beads are tiny beads that can be used to adorn bags, clothes, and others. The Igbo and Yoruba tribes traditionally wear seed beads as waist beads in Nigeria.

They string together the beads to create colorful waist beads, necklaces, or even clothes because seed beads come in various colors. Now, I do not wear wait beads cause I think they are itchy and make me uncomfortable when I wanna sleep. However, there are people who feel comfortable in it. The seed bead symbolizes beauty in Nigerian tribes.

4. Faturan beads

types of beads

Types of Beads 6In the bead trade, “Faturan” is thought to be a mixture of natural amber shavings with other materials.

A chemist melted down filings left over from carving amber beads and combined them with other natural resins. Examples of such are mastika, frankincense, colophony, and turpentine, to make individual beads from natural substances, thus creating “Faturan.”

Faturan beads originally come in yellow or red. They darken their original color over time due to oxidation. The Fulani tribe mostly uses Faturan beads as they symbolize prayer or worry beads.

5. Akka Beads

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Akka beads are very popular among the Igbo. They are also worn as a local ornament by the people around Bida in the present Niger State of Nigeria. The Akka bead is of different colors: light green; dark-brown, dark-red; blue, and white.


6. Akori beads

Akori beads are typically blue, green, yellow, or red in color; made of glass, coral, or porcelain-like material; cylindrical or round in shape; and generally about the size of a marble. They are majorly worn by the Benin people however their origin is still an enigma in West African history according to Afrikapital. The Akori beads are also known as Aggry beads.

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The Akori beads have their bases in different parts of west Africa. They are deeply appreciated because it simply symbolizes culture.

In conclusion:

Types of Beads 1People use beads as decorative and beautifying accessories to make different crafts and jewelry. Different ethnic groups in Nigeria call beads by different names in their respective languages.

The Yoruba people refer to beads as “Ileke”, and the Igbo people as “Erulu”. So also the  Benin people refer to them as “Ivie”, and the Hausa people as “Dutsen Ado”. Furthermore, beads are a lucrative way of trading for Nigerian people, especially Fulani. Isn’t it cute? (lol). Additionally, the best place to see the creative use of beads is during weddings.

For example:

The Igbo wedding uses beads in different ways. The woman wears all her beads proudly for her traditional wedding.

Please do not forget to read my books as they end.

Links below

Because It’s you on Libri: https://www.libri7.com/book/20457/Because-It’s-You

His Moon Luna: https://m.novel-cat.com/bookDetail/22961236047/about/liked/HIS-MOON-LUNA

Dealing With Love: https://www.goodnovel.com/book_info/31000380358/Billionaire/Dealing-With-Love

Later Fashionistas… (wink)

God bless you guys (love emoji)

Photo credit: Getty Images and  google.com 

By Oluwatoyosi


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