This month is bracelet month at FlorenceJewelshop. I love bracelets, all kind of bracelets. I think they can make you so beautiful. But I have problems with one type of bracelet. Not because of its shape or material, but because of its name. A bracelet should not be a slave bracelet. We have to invent some other name for that type of bracelets. There should not be slaves in our society, and they should not be held with a ‘slave’ bracelet. And nobody should have to wear a ‘slave’ bracelet again. Period! But what to do with those type of bracelets?
What is a ‘slave bracelet’?
In the 50s of last century, the ‘slave bracelet’ became very popular in The Netherlands (and probably also in the UK and the USA). I owned a golden bracelet, with no decoration, just a smooth band with a hinge clasp. You had them in silver too. In ads for this slave bracelets they used black women, and at that time it was not really a problem. That is: you did not hear any complaint from organizations or persons, that this was discrimination.
The bracelets have the shape of the chains that the slaves were wearing when they where transported or had to work outside, especially in Northern America and the Caribean.
But what was the meaning of these slave bracelets? Is it that we just liked them in those times and we did not think bad about the name or the symbol? Did we like that silver of golden simple accent on our wrists and women’s liberation movements were not fanatic at the time?
When you dive into history, these kinds of bands or bracelets were only worn by the slaves from Western Africa. They were also used in India by the belly dancers, although that bracelet with chains was worn over the top of a hand ending in a ring. The slave bracelets were also a part of the harem jewelry. An element of slavery occurs in every old culture that knew these bracelets. Nowadays they are popular in the SM scene and among the young people, who probably have no idea where the shape, the name and the idea of their favorite bracelets come from.
From the 16th century on these bracelets were made of iron or bronze without any clasp. It was a permanent band put around a wrist of a slave to prevent him or her from escaping. In India, these kinds of bracelets were made of silver or gold. And they were called ‘handflower’ or ‘Hathphool’. The hathphool was originally a piece of bridal jewelry with five rings connected with chains to a bangle bracelet. The rings represented female gods that could protect the bride in difficult times. But later there were only three rings attached to the bangle to represent the bond of matrimony (or sometimes slavery).
Also in a harem, the women were adorned with smooth silver or golden bands or bracelets, which they got from their masters. Maybe not the symbol of the slavery we know, but those women did not live according to their free will in the harem and they could not get out. So in my view a symbol of slavery.
The modern slave bracelet
And in this time you see them made from rubber, rope, leather, and all kind of materials that are smooth and easy to wear. We call them friendship bracelets nowadays or we use them as a ‘good cause’ bracelet, like the rubber band Lance Armstrong introduced to collect money for curing cancer( ‘live strong’).
Isn’t time to change the name for this type of bracelets in ‘liberation bracelet’ to honor all the slaves, who had no choice but wearing this bracelet to keep them from running away. To honor all the slaves who had to leave their homeland and family to cultivate crops, work in house holds, without getting paid, or getting their freedom.
On the other hand, don’t blame the bracelet. It is still a beautiful piece of jewelry when you are free to choose what bracelet to wear today and be beautiful with it. But choose the right bracelet, because like the ‘slave’ bracelet not all the type of bracelets are looking good on you. When –for instance- I wear a wide cuff, a statement bracelet, I attract all the eyes to my wrists and when I stand also to my hips that are too large (according to me). So I should wear smaller bracelets, that make my arms look longer.
I wrote a booklet about what types of bracelets you can choose from and there are also 14 tips to choose the right bracelet, that makes you sparkle’. You can download this free booklet by clicking on this link or the image of the booklet!