|Title||Yoruba Beads Mock Coral Africa Huge 38 Inch|
|Type of Object||Powder glass|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|Overall Condition||Good. Some of our beads have traveled at least three continents, and have graced numerous owners. Small chips, corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.|
|Damage/Repair||Pitting and chips in some beads, dirt|
|Bead Size||20-33 mm diameter. See picture with penny for size comparison (US penny is 19 mm diameter).|
|Strand Length||38 inches (includes string/raffia)|
|Style||Yoruba Mock Coral|
|Type||Strand of Beads|
These are really big beads!
Yoruba mock coral beads, also known as "ileke idẹ" in the Yoruba language, are a type of traditional beadwork that is commonly worn by the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. These beads are typically made from glass and are designed to resemble real coral beads, which were highly prized and considered a sign of wealth and status in Yoruba culture.
The art of beadwork has a long history in Yoruba culture, with beaded jewelry and adornments playing an important role in traditional ceremonies and rituals. Mock coral beads were introduced to Yoruba culture in the 19th century, when European traders began importing glass beads from Venice to West Africa. These beads were quickly adopted by the Yoruba people, who saw them as a more affordable alternative to real coral beads.
Yoruba mock coral beads are made using a process called "bead stringing," which involves threading individual glass beads onto a string or wire to create a continuous strand. The beads are often arranged in intricate patterns and designs, with each color and shape having its own symbolic meaning.
In Yoruba culture, mock coral beads are often worn as part of traditional attire for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies. They are also worn as a form of personal adornment, with women often layering multiple strands of beads around their necks and wrists to create a striking and colorful look.
Today, Yoruba mock coral beads continue to be a popular form of traditional beadwork, with many artisans and designers incorporating them into their work. These beads have also gained popularity outside of West Africa, with people around the world wearing them as a symbol of African heritage and culture.
For more information, please see our comprehensive guide to African-made beads, African Beads: Jewels of a Continent, hardcover, 216 pages, 163 color photographs, available from Africa Direct.