Posted by Hanna Wagari

African have always used jewelry since the beginning of time.  In her book “Africa Adorned”, Angela Fisher shows the huge diversity of adornment in Africa.  African jewelry is full of symbolism and communicates the status of the person wearing it, their prowess if they are priestess or a warrior, whether single or married, dowry size, etc.  Worn by both men and women, all forms of organic materials are used as amulets or fetishes – metal, feather, leather, bone, horn, shell, wood, beads and or semi-precious stones.

The Karo tribe living along the borders of the lower Omo River in Ethiopia, incorporate rich, cultural symbolism into their rituals by using ornate body art, intricate headdresses and body scarification to express beauty and significance within their community.

The Tuareg who are among the last nomads on earth are famous for their stunning silver jewelry, hand etched in traditional designs.  The cross of the Agadez is the most famous among the 21 emblems of the Tuareg – 21 different designs, each representing a specific nomadic enclave of Niger.  One interpretation among many of their cross design is a representation of the Four Corners of the Earth – a metaphysical and spiritual compass for a people who are always on the move.

The variety of style of jewelry amongst african tribes and regions is as diverse as the continent itself.  Jewelry is integral to our identity.  It is innately in our DNA to express our creativity.  It is in the rhythm that is Africa…the music, dance, landscape, architecture, art.  It is our “Our Collective Genius”!  Our tribal style is often duplicated on fashion runways.  Billions has been made from the appropriation of our culture.  We are and have always been taste makers. 

In the words of George C. Wolfe “God created black people and black people created style.”

Love & Light!