“Some day he may buy you a ring, ringa linga
I’ve heard that’s where it leads ringa linga
Wearin’ baubles, bangles, and beads.”
~ KISMET 1953
If you look down on your wrists, chances are you have at least one and probably two “bands” or “baubles,” considering that western sociologists say that the average man uses 1.6 bands and the average woman wears 1.8 bands, which include watches, jewelry, beads, strings, and medical bracelets etc.
In my work, researching and editing copy for Whitespace, sometimes random introductions lead to interesting combinations of information which results in higher consciousness. The musical Kismet written in 1953 included the song, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.” It has been recorded by many artists but gained great popularity when sung by Frank Sinatra and and later in a jazz version by Peggy Lee. The lyrics imply that wearing baubles may lead to a ring and indeed, friendship and love which is often symbolised by gifts of jewelry.
When researching the origin of baubles or wrist art, the popularity of these adornments was evidenced in the fact that Wikipedia’s definition was found on the 6th page of Google searches for bracelets, which included many jewelers and a variety of uses and styles. The history and origin of bracelets may be as old as humanity but evidence of burial remains with decorative arm bands have been found in Anthropological digs of remains over 40000 years old and substantiated with carbon dating. What these earliest bracelets meant for the wearers is a matter of conjecture.
Most of us have had a silicone band, which initially became popular with Livestrong in bright yellow to symbolise that one had donated to the Cancer Charity founded in 2004 by cyclist Lance Armstrong in conjunction with NIKE. This foundation has raised over US$ 500 million for cancer but has steadily dwindled since Armstrong admitted to doping in 2012. Many other charities have copied the format and so you may have worn a pink one for Breast Cancer or a white one for Make Poverty History. These colourful plastic bands have even been used as symbols to denote sexual proclivities in secret societies in both the US and the United Kingdom. The history of fashion and wearable art is reflective of the cultures and the tendencies of social interactions throughout the history of humanity.
Today many young and active bracelet wearers are combining their orientation to fitness with the fashion of wearing an electronic device which may feed back a variety of information including the time, heartbeat pulse, blood pressure and the amount of distance covered. Other wearers enjoy a copper and or zinc combination and swear that they provide pain mitigation from arthritis and joint discomfort.
Whitespace founder Karren Brooks introduced her team to Locky McWilliam and we heard about his amazing project called Band4Hope. Locky related his travels in Southern Africa driving his Land Rover while accompanied by the future mother of their son Sholto. It was their travel adventures and introductions which eventually inspired him to form his social enterprise. Locky’s story includes his encounters with the hospitality and generosity of the African people, which was embodied in the Zulu word Ubuntu. McWilliam’s idea began with an introduction to artisan metal workers in Zimbabwe, who manufactured a beautiful copper and zinc bracelet which could be hammer tooled with the inscription of BAND4HOPE.
Band4Hope offers individually numbered bracelets in both silver (£30) and copper (£15) which embody three important concepts. First, they are attractive pieces of art and look good on the wearer, secondly, they return the costs and any profits to these poor Zimbabwean artisans which helps support a community of almost 100 individuals. Last the idea of Ubuntu and the ability to pass on the spirit of love and generosity by giving the band to a future wearer which helps spread the good work and as the name implies, a hope for a better future.
We invite you to raise your consciousness and step into the Whitespace. We are honoured to affiliate with Band4Hope and the next time you look down on your wrist instead of “Bangles and Beads” feel the Ubuntu of a Band4Hope.