Bob Marley brought Rasta bracelets into mainstream American culture in the 1970s. People either loved his music or hated it; there seemed to be nothing in between. The adults denounced it as nothing more than the glorification of the “criminal element” and tried to steer their children away from the sounds of Marley’s passionate songs. And they certainly didn’t approve of their kids adorning their wrists with the rasta bracelets they now associated with Bob Marley. But while Marley may have made them popular, he didn’t start the trend, and if those adults had known its significance, he might have softened his stance, at least a little.
The original history of Rasta bracelets dates back to the 1930s. Beginning in that decade, Rastafarians believed that eventually all displaced people of their race would once again unify in Africa. They wore the bracelets to show solidarity with each other and the movement, as well as other traditional clothing, all made from natural fibers. One of the most common natural fibers is hemp, which can be made into just about anything.
The meanings behind the colors of rasta bracelets
The three colors of these bracelets are chosen for what they symbolize. Those three colors are red, yellow (gold), and green, and each is important for its own meaning. Red is used to symbolize the blood of all the people in the world and all the living beings that walk the planet. Yellow or gold represent treasures or riches that people cherish, whether of a material or spiritual nature. Green symbolizes the color of the earth that all living creatures walk on and that Rasta people appreciate.
Alternative meanings of colors
However, there are alternative meanings for the colors on Rasta bracelets. For some purists, the colors apply only to Rastafarian people. The red is only for their blood and the yellow is for all the gold and other treasures stolen from their culture. Green is the symbol of Africa, the greatest of its stolen treasures.
Other symbols added to rasta bracelets
In addition to the three colors that are used for rasta bracelets, there are other elements that are traditionally added to link them to the culture itself. These can include symbols of Africa or Jamaica and can be woven into the design or tied when the bracelet is completed. The most common symbol added to Rasta bracelets is the marijuana leaf.