What in The World Are Waist Beads ‘Jigida’ Used For?

Updated: Jun 17, 2022
By Aisha Zakari
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Jigida, Ileke, Maji, Giri giri, or whatever you call waist beads in your respective languages, comes in various sizes, lengths, and shapes and is suited for all body types. These beads have been essential in African tradition since the beginning of time. It is believed to have been in existence since the 15th century. Let’s have an in-depth understanding of these beads, controversies, and how it’s regarded.

What are Waist Beads?

Like they say, “different strokes for different folks,” these beads mean different things to different people. For a lame man, he would define them as just admonishment. Some oddly superstitious people would define these beads as charms women use to make men do what they want and to fulfill their innermost desire, mostly money and material needs or want.

Waist beads are beautifully crafted and designed by hand with white fishing lines; eye-catching beads are made of glass, crystals, bone, quartz, stones, cowries, and seashells, which are environmentally friendly and safe. They are worn around the waist singly or in multiples and fall beautifully on the stomach.

These beads have been with us since the beginning of time and are still an old tradition. They were worn for various reasons, from royalty, adornment, embellishing one’s body, and decoration. Regarding what beads are, it is an open dialogue, and one should keep in mind that people have different opinions, and everyone is entitled to theirs.

Different Colours of Waist Beads and Their Meanings

Enticing and blended colorful beads are worn on the waist worldwide by women in different colors as a sign of feminity, confidence, beauty, fertility, and mostly self-love. Yes, self-love. It doesn’t matter if you’re fat, thick, slim, or plus-sized. If you want to rock these beads, go ahead and rock them. Here are different colors below to select from what fits and defines you with their various meaning.

  • Brown – Stability
  • White – Truth and Purity
  • Red – Confidence and Bold
  • Black–Power
  • Blue – Loyalty
  • Pink – Soft, Romance, and Kindness
  • Yellow – Vibrant and Fertility
  • Green – Prosperity
  • Gold – Richness, and Wisdom
  • Orange – Vitality
  • Turquoise – Love and Healing
  • Indigo – Inner vision
  • Purple – Self-awareness
  • Silver – Dignity, and Stability
  • Gray – Reflection and Redirection

Waist Beads Uses

  • Aside from these color meanings above, waist beads are either worn singly or in multiples, capable of evoking sexual wants and desires. A good number of people believe they are used for other reasons.
  • These beads are used in making jewelry, anklets, earrings, and bracelets. Bead making is a lucrative business here in northern Nigeria, and if you have a good eye for fashion, this can fetch you some good money in these trying times.
  • Many people believe the beads in the company of anklets (leg chains) are used for decorating, adorning, and embellishing one’s body.
  • Few people firmly believe that they come with spiritual powers. Although not proven, it is still in their belief that it comes with capabilities to make men bend to a woman’s will, and some believe they are used as contraceptives.
  • Some believe the beads attract the opposite sex and stir deep, dark emotional and sexual responses in them just like how Kayan Mata is used.
  • Most women believe wearing beads often helps accentuate and highlight one’s curves and keeps the waist trim. As a result, the beads are worn to draw attention to the waist and hips until they fall or break, but new beads are purchased if such happens. I happen to fall under the who wear waist beads for this sole reason.

My Personal Encounter with Waist Beads

Growing up, I never thought about it that way, but I could see beyond it as an embellishment for my body when I met someone, my roommate Rofia, who adorned her waist with blended beads. It captivated me immediately.

Then one day, I asked about the beads, and she was able to tell me where I could get the already made beads, or I could make mine. I was more into the latter, but I still purchased an already made one as a guide to making mine. Six years and still counting, I still adorn my waist with beads.

Besides having a small waist, it also makes you aware of your weight: if you’re adding or losing. If the beads get tighter around my waist, I believe I’m adding weight; if it doesn’t, I know I’m not adding weight, or I am still the way I was. It’s been a win-win for me ever since then. May I also add that men love their women who know how to make these beads shake? This shows women learning to twerk to please their men by looking sexy for them.

Waist Beads Controversies

Quite a handful of people believe the beads, when seen around the waist, are fetish and seem to have spiritual powers; the popular word is “Kayan Mata.”

Some people consider Kayan Mata items with spiritual powers to bend one to act against their will. A famous person whom people believe makes such things happen is a woman called “Jaruma” There have been testimonials on Instagram about the originality of her items and how they work. The internet, especially social media, took up to this; since then, there have been many opinions, stories, and beliefs. Though they are all stories from different people, regardless of that, these beads are still loved by some.

Social Media Reactions

We’ve seen many women more than often break the internet with enticing and alluring beads around their waist. Some are hidden under their clothes, while some can be seen over their outfits. Most often, they are worn on the bare skin.

Waist beads have been an open dialogue and will always have an uproar on the internet as different people would say their opinions about them. Some are good, some are not so good, and some are weird to be factual. Below are a few:

Queen Bee on Twitter aired her opinion by agreeing that waist beads, just like anklets (leg chains), are nothing else but fashion. These beads accentuate the waist and also make it eye-catching. I mean, you can never miss a woman on these beads.

It is now a fashion, nothing to be scared about but!!!

Queen Bee

Arguably, we can say that ‘but?” means a lot for Queen Bee. It could be a fetish and spiritual powers or contraceptives, but it’s now a fashion trend among women worldwide.

A young lady Miss Danielle expresses her love for beads around her waist but is cut short of the immense joy due to the selection of colors she makes.

I got the beads, but the issue is I don’t love the selection I made, and I don’t like the colors lol.

It’s pretty funny because she made the selection herself, but such happens, and it is okay. But, be sure to select colors based on what you want the color of the beads to mean for you. If you want the truth, go for white; if you wish richness, go for gold.

An online beads vendor also shared her opinion about what she sells and emphasized the tradition from centuries ago.

They are used for fashion basically (makes women attractive and sensuous) Also, to watch weight (gaining or losing) and it is our African heritage.


When it comes to waist beads, one should be open-minded as there are many opinions. But I like to believe that one should see beyond it and comes to terms with it as being nothing else but an admonishment on one’s body. The blended colors of the beads and how they highlight the waist and hips are more than enough reasons one should see it as such.

Some of these beads come with lucky charms as decorations and nothing else but that aside, one should always be prayerful. Are you one who sees beads as a fetish or an embellishment? Let me know in the comment section below.

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