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Tambas: The Versatile Seed Bead Accessory

On a late January afternoon, a trader named Ebrima pulled up to our shop with bins full of beautiful jewelry, necklaces, and beads. Sorting through the metal, glass, and stone in different colors and textures, we began filling the tabletop with these gorgeous seed bead necklaces, called Tambas.


The Tamba necklaces are made from multiple strands of seed beads, some as small as one millimeter! The glass beads are made in Italy, while the Tamba necklace itself is created in Africa, generally by the Baule people. One by one, threading beads onto almost 200 strands of raffia, the Tamba necklace comes to life. Traditionally, these were worn as waist belts by women in the Ivory Coast during the pre to early 1900’s. The beads would symbolize fertility, womanhood, healing, protection, and coming-of-age celebration.

Photo by Anthony Pappone

Today, Tambas are highly valued and can be worn as a necklace, or belt, used for beadwork projects or simply collected and admired. The necklaces vary in number of strands, color, weight and bead size. Africa Direct is freshly stocked with gorgeous Tambas after our visit with Ebrima, and we can’t wait to share our new collection with you. 


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