African jewelry is endowed with secret meanings and symbols that reflect the history and life of the tribes. For their manufacture, objects are used that can easily turn into the shock of a modern person. First of all, these are interesting combinations of metals with feathers, teeth and even skulls of small animals .
So different Africa
On one continent, both rich and developed countries, and poor tribes, for which time has stopped, are located. Peoples living according to the laws of nature express their abilities by inventing a variety of jewelry. Each product is used for a specific purpose: scaring away enemies, attracting the opposite sex, marriage ritual or dance .
It is worth noting that in Africa, the presence of jewelry is primarily a symbol of strength and opportunity . At that time, as in other ancient civilizations, they indicated social status .
Products and materials
As materials, elements of plant and animal origin are used. The most popular decoration is a plate placed on the lower lip of the girls before marriage. It is believed that this subject strengthens the mouth through which traditions are passed down from generation to generation.
The most common plates were in Ethiopia . Their diameter can reach 20 cm, and the larger the better. After all, it is a symbol of wealth . The decoration is made of wood, terracotta and ivory.
Attention! With the help of a plate on the lip, potential grooms understand how rich the bride is. After all, this is also a peculiar evidence of the number of cattle in the girl’s family. A wife in Ethiopia costs 8-10 cows, and this is a fortune.
From sea shells and animals
Unusually beautiful jewelry is created from seafood . The following materials are most popular:
- Corals ("water tree"). They are used as a protective amulet and a life-giving element.
- Sulfur ambergris, extracted from the stomach of sperm whales . This is a powerful aphrodisiac for men.
- Pearls They have long been used in creating hairpins, bracelets and necklaces. In some parts of the continent, pearls were exchanged for gold, palm oil, ivory and even slaves.
- Cowrie shells . It is a symbol of female sexuality and attractiveness. Jewelry from them can be found in the tombs of the pharaohs. In ancient Egypt, making shell jewelry was a traditional activity.
Important! Similar kauri shell jewelry was found in the Sahara Desert and the Republic of Mali.
Gemstones and Minerals
African peoples have always worshiped bright beads made of blue stones, as well as carnelian and quartz . They are also present in the jewelry of Ancient Egypt. Amber is also popular. It is believed that this stone attracts the sun and protects from darkness.
Gold is one of the rare metals in demand in all world civilizations. It was used not only as a decoration, but also as a unit of exchange in commodity-money relations. However, African tribes used it only for the manufacture of jewelry.
For example, in Senegal, artisans conducted bold experiments, combining precious metal with various objects.
Unique products could be found in many European markets. Bracelets, belts, and necklaces were created from gold . Actively used valuable metal for rituals.
So, in the days of significant events, a golden “disk of the soul” was carried out. It was intended to purify the souls of leaders.
Reference! Women wore several golden rings on each toe and toe.
Copper, Bronze and Brass - Indicators of Status and Wealth
Thanks to the advent of alloy technology, it became possible to fully show imagination in creating jewelry.
A popular material for jewelry is bronze - an alloy of copper and tin .
Girls in Niger prefer to wear bronze bracelets engraved with Islamic motifs.
In Côte d'Ivoire, brass jewelry was used. This is a kind of symbol of divinity and a way of communicating with spirits. And in Liberia, bronze ankle bracelets were part of the wife’s dowry .
In the Ndebele tribe, a girl with a long neck is considered beautiful, therefore, representatives of this tribe put on hoops around the neck even in childhood, thanks to which it stretches to 50 cm. It is impossible to remove the hoops, this can lead to death.
Silver - lunar and mysterious metal
Silver since ancient times symbolized purity and honesty . It was especially appreciated by the villagers and nomads. For example, the leaders of the Berbers and Turks used silver mouthpieces for tobacco. And as ritual jewelry used rings on which a fighter on a horse was portrayed . They were worn by warriors and knights.
Now silver is worn by both women and men.
Unique ancient techniques
Many unique technologies were brought by Jews seeking refuge in Africa during the Inquisition . Chinese technique known as alveolar was introduced. All drawings in it are applied with enamel in the form of an arc. This is one of the oldest ways to decorate metal products.
With the help of glaze, it became possible to decorate glass and precious stones . The inlay method was widely used.
Decorations of different tribes in various techniques:
The niellatura technique is also interesting - a peculiar way of blacking silver . On jewelry, you can see many images of stylized elements of nature, which carry a certain symbolism. For example, almonds indicate immortality, pomegranates are a symbol of fertility, and a spiral is a sign of eternity.
At different times, each nation had its own vision of beauty. African tribes are distinguished by special traditions and ways. Despite the low level of development, their striving for beauty is striking, which is difficult for modern residents of developed countries to understand.