Africans hold in high esteem their cultural artefacts, and one of them is their beads.
Before the 4th Century BC when glass beads found their way to the shores of Africa, beads were made of various materials like ostrich eggshell, bones, metals, shells, clay and plant materials. Beads were also used for barter trade as an early means of currency, especially during the slave trade.
Today, there are various types of beads made from other materials such as ceramic and recycled glass.
These commonly used forms of jewellery come in different colours, shapes and sizes and mean different things to their users.
Here are some of the widely used beads from various parts of Africa and the roles they play apart from adornment: