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Elephant Hair Bracelets


Elephant Hair Bracelets - A Tribal Charm for Health, Wealth, Good Luck, and Love

According to traditional African mythology, elephants are a bridge between here and the hereafter, between earth and heaven, body and spirit. Elephant hair bracelets are a traditional token for good luck, protection and prosperity.

It's still possible to get bracelets made of real elephant hair (from their tails - I know, we don't think of elephants as having hair!) and no elephants are harmed in the process. But you'll also see here a few simply elegant versions in stainless steel, copper, and sterling silver. If you're interested in making your own elephant-hair bracelet, we've got instructions and a how-to video to help you learn the technique.

These bracelets are adjustable - you slip it on over your hand and then adjust the size using the sliding knots that are a built-in part of the jewelry's design. But the knots are more than practical - they are powerfully symbolic, too. Traditionally, elephant hair bracelets have either two or four knots, symbolic of achieving a balance between things of the body and earth (fertility and posterity, for example) and things of the supernatural world, spirits and the mysterious forces of nature.

Photo: Elephant Hair Bracelet as worn by Dean Winchester / Jensen Ackles in Supernatural, screencap by raloria

Bracelets of Real Elephant Hair - Traditional 2-Knot Elephant Hair Bracelets

Elephants are a protected species these days, so it's not common to find this traditional style of bracelet still being made with real elephant hair - more commonly, you'll see them made with plant fibres or cords or wire of precious metals. However, there are some artisans, like Francis Cary, a third-generation crafter of elephant hair jewelry in St. Lucia, South Africa, who have received official permission from the game preserves of The Elephant Coast to collect the tail hair that's shed naturally by the local elephants, and so are legally able to offer the bracelets for sale and export.

These bracelets are getting harder to find every month, it seems - there are some good imitations out there and it can be hard for someone to know if you're wearing a faux version made of plant fibre or the real thing.

How to Adjust an Elephant Hair Bracelet - Sliding Knots are the secret to changing the size

One of the reasons why this style of bracelet makes a super gift is that it is so easy to get the right size for someone else - the size of the bracelet can be customized by sliding the knots.

Metal Elephant Hair Bracelets - For Men and Women

How to Make a Sliding Knot Bracelet - DIY Jewelry Craft Project "How To" - Learn to make a traditional 2-knot elephant hair bracelet

Perhaps you'd like to learn how to make a good-luck Elephant Hair Bracelet of your own? Here's an excellent video demo that shows how. All it takes is a bit of practice, to get the knack of the knot.

Once you learn the sliding knot technique, you can practice with multiple strands, cords of different colors, added beads and charms, and other variations. The creative possibilities are endless for making your own "good luck" bracelet in elephant hair style!

Make Your Own Bracelet - Learn to make the sliding knots, and you can make your own traditional African elephant hair bracelet

For those of us who don't have access to elephants, it might be interesting to try using horsehair to make a sliding knot bracelet in African style. The tail of a horse is plenty long enough to produce a few spare strands of hair of the right length for jewelry making, and I'm told it makes for some interesting knotted beadwork. For most of us, however, a more practicable option would be a thin waxed cotton or leather cord, or a fine gauge wire.

What's your style? - Traditional Elephant Hair or Modern Metals or DIY Jewelry?

Learn more about African Elephants and Elephant Hair Bracelets

Photo: Addo Elephant Park by Brian Snelson (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0] , via Wikimedia Commons

Would you wear an Elephant Hair Bracelet?

Dorian Bodnariuc from Ottawa, Ontario Canada on April 10, 2014:

I didn't know elephant hair was used for bracelets. They look awesome by the way.

Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on March 17, 2014:

There is so much illegal killing of elephants again. I would be leery of purchasing on the Internet, so I would go with the metal version.

Delia on March 16, 2014:

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I still have my elephant hair bracelet given to me when I was a child, it's at least 60 years old. When I was in Paris I noticed the popularity of the elephant hair style bracelets...I bought some for I see them here in the US.

flycatcherrr (author) on August 29, 2013:

@rob-hemphill: What a treasure, you're a lucky man!

Rob Hemphill from Ireland on August 29, 2013:

I remember these well when we lived in Kenya as children - I think the locals had made the bracelets and given them to us, and I still have one to this day!

julieannbrady on May 22, 2013:

I would wear such a bracelet ... don't usually see those where I shop locally, but thanks to the wonder of the internet, I can find some. Very creative.

flycatcherrr (author) on January 06, 2013:

@AcornOakForest: I know, weird, eh? Elephant hair is almost like wire. Makes sense for a big animal like an elephant, when you think about it, but I remember being so surprised the first time I touched one and there were all those coatse hairs. In the kids' story books, elephants don't look like they have any hair at all. :-)

Monica Lobenstein from Western Wisconsin on January 06, 2013:

These are cool! I've seen the sliding knots before, but never with elephant hair. I was surprised by how thick and coarse it was. Very interesting lens!

LadyFlashman from United Kingdom on October 28, 2012:

I love the idea of wearing a real elephant hair bracelet, but only if it was made by Francis Cary so I would know that no elephants had been hurt in the process. The silver bracelets are lovely too, so pretty. What an unusual and interesting lens!

victoriahaneveer on October 22, 2012:

So unusual

sunlightseer on September 19, 2012:

I love elephants but didn't know these bracelets I've seen were elephant hair.

WriterJanis2 on September 15, 2012:

Very cue pieces.

eternisemoi on September 15, 2012:

Yes, I like your selection of elephant hair bracelets. This is actually my first time hearing about them too.

Camden1 on September 15, 2012:

I love the silver-gold knot elephant hair bracelet! I would wear one of the metal bracelets...for some reason wearing one made with actual hair kinda creeps me out.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on September 15, 2012:

Not really, but i know couple of people who would love elephant bracelets in hair and metal versions!

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