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A History of Yoruba Beads

Though many know that  beads were one of the products traded in exchange for humans between Europeans and West Africans in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade era, not many know that the Yoruba had their own bead manufacturing industry at the time.

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Evidence of bead manufacture among the Yoruba dates as far as the 11th Century AD. Scientific evidence  exists indicating that blue- green glass beads made in Ile-Ife were being traded outside the Yoruba area long before the era of European contact.

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20 thoughts on “A History of Yoruba Beads

  1. But for disruption in evolution process journey in development the Yoruba would have advanced, in technology, economy would have been wonderfully developed. Too bad, European colonial economic adventure truncated Yoruba socioeconomic progression. What now about conspiracy of principalities and powers political, economic and spiritual ? Who would deliver the Yoruba from the powers of darkness continually in search of evil forces to collaborate with to keep the race down in abject poverty in spite of inexhaustible human and material endowments ? Among others, it would take a reawakening, a new quality of reasoning in an age where ‘ civilization’ is determined by social perverts hunted by Islamic terrorists everywhere you face!

  2. Ha, I love this post on beads! It brings back childhood memory of my older sister. She had lots of waist beads, spent lots of time colour coordinating – that drove my mother to the wall. But my sister just wanted to have some fun, she loved the noises they make when she walks… she is the bravest of us all.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’ve worn them in the past. They’re also a good way to keep an eye on ones weight gain. Your sister sounds like a fun person to know!

  3. Great read about the beads and also a confirmation of the true meaning and value of the beads. Proudly Segilola eleuinju ege.

  4. Ileke, Iyun, Segi, Ide ,Baba, Oje were among major ornamentanations of the Yorubas way before common era. I grew up with these and names like Segilola, Aniyun, Onibonoje, Agbokunyinbonide, Ogbosatafababa, and several other words and names that justify and corroborate this history are still common with some Yoruba families till now.

    1. Very great names. I understand Segilola (beads are wealth/good fortune), Aniyun (we have beads) but I have never come across Onibonoje , Agbokunyinbonide,or Ogbosatafababa. What do they mean?

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