Red stone bead making was a craft of the people of  Old Oyo. Jasper , Agate or Chalcedony stone was quarried by  the Hausa and traded  at Ilorin in exchange for cloth and garments .


Jasper stone


The Yoruba bead makers would fashion the stones  into red beads which the Hausas called lantana .  The stones were polished  and drilled with openings to make  reddish brown beads in a variety of shapes and sizes, long , cylindrical, barrel-shaped, hexagonal etc



On  the collapse of Old Oyo the bead makers were brought to Ilorin to teach their art to the craftsmen there, and the lantana industry was thus transferred. Beadmaking from stone was carried on within families and their names sometimes reflected their craft eg Asileke – Ilorin Lantana Beads, Ann O’ Hear


Jasper stone

The original craftsmen in Ilorin may have been families of Yoruba refugees upon the abandonment of Old Oyo, or Yoruba slaves captured during the wars.


Benin was a major market for the red Yoruba stone beads. The beads were also traded to Warri, Igbomina, Ekiti, Oshogbo , Oyo, Ogbomosho etc


‘Frobenius found out that beads lent out by the oba for the Benin “Festival of Corals” were not coral but Ilorin red jasper beads’ – Beads, Body and Soul: Henry John Drewal and John Mason




Olamide wears red agate beads in his Abule Sowo video

We also made faux coral from local glass sources ground into powder and fashioned into beads. There are a variety of these still available in different regions of Yorubaland

Handmade Yoruba Coral bead bracelet with Yoruba gold beads

Handmade Yoruba Iyun bead bracelet



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