They are worn in all African countries, pearls are a vital symbol in African culture and reflect a variety of realities. From seduction to object used in traditional African rituals and a sign of royalty, pearls identify African. They survive generations, resist the phenomenon of modernization affecting black continent in various ways.
Continent of high traditions, Africa is built of habits and customs that should be told to the rest of the world. Whether in the Maghreb countries, East Africa, West Africa, or in Central and Southern Africa, the customs and habits of the inhabitants are sometimes completely different. But in spite of the mountains, jungle and desert as natural barriers, several clothing styles have connected these territories. Pearls wearing is a common practice in all African countries. Ainsi, c’est à l’Egypte Antique que nous devons l’histoire des perles en Afrique. This is the beginning of a venture that will be later extended to a whole continent. Not only an ornament object, pearls have various meaning.
Pearl synonymous of attraction
The primarily step to understand the word pearl refers directly to the hip of the African woman. Pearls are in fact known in seducing men. In Africa, a real woman must wear this beautiful accessory on her hip to express her femininity and sensuality. Cela fait impérativement partie intégrante des habitudes de la femme africaine. Experience proved that women wearing pearls are effective in keeping their men under control. Furthermore, pearls are also used in Africa to make bags, earrings, necklaces and shoes for African’s main attire. Even if some African women prefer chains on the hip instead of beads, the latter remain the main means of seduction for women.
Pearl symbol of royalty
Pearls wearing leads to royalty. A part from their seductive role, they also reflect power and most precilsely royalty. Honorable decorations indicating social status and the value of the person wearing them. It is the main sign used to recognize kings, queens, princes and princesses in the royal courts and African communities. It is therefore important in african kingdom. Considering its expensive cost, the necklaces made from pearls gives a certain authority to the one wearing them and a sign of social comfort.
Pearl and African rituals
They are also at the center of African beliefs and have an important role to play. Indeed, in traditional ceremonies, pearls are used for Vodoun believer’s coming out after a good time in the monastery. This facilitate the distinction of one divinity believer from the other. In addition, pearls worn by newborns facilitate the first teeth growth and also fight effectively against children’s infections. Another virtue of pearls in Africa is their protective role. They chase away evil spirits and bad spells. Let’s note that these various pearls are not accessible to everyone; only initiates know about them. Pearls turned out to be an essential symbol in African culture over the generations. Thank God, they resist modernity and adapt to the realities of the contemporary world. For the time being, they are still transmitted from generation to generation as a precious heritage.
French translation of ” Culture africaine : Quels sens révèle le port des perles ? ”, Eliane FATCHINA by Salima ALAGBE