Beads can be seen not only in the familiar forms of necklaces, bracelets, belts and earrings, but also on anklets, handbags, headbands, and headdresses. Beadwork is used in West Africa on altar mantels, garments for royal statues, and coverings for kingly stools. In ancient Asia beads were scattered like seeds beneath temples to induce bountiful harvests. Among the Kogi of Columbia beads are part of the ritual offerings to insure the future of newly built houses. In the Philippines the practice of placing two beads in a cup at wedding ceremonies still binds marriage. Beads are worn to communicate stature almost everywhere, and in North America were even used to cement political alliances.
The ways in which beads are used help define a particular group concept of beauty.
Both the selection of individual beads and the combinations and assemblies are informative. In some societies beauty can be rewarded by beads. An attractive East African Maasai woman will be courted with beads and the accumulation of beads itself will enhance her beauty.