Bob Marley brought the Rasta bracelets to the mainstream American culture back in the 1970s. People either grooved on his music or loathed it; there seemed to be no in between. Adults decried it as nothing but the glorification of the “criminal element” and tried to usher their children away from the sounds of Marley’s passionate songs. And they certainly did not approve of their children adorning their wrists with the Rasta bracelets they now associated with Bob Marley. But, while Marley may have made them popular, he did not start the trend and had those adults known their meaning, may have softened their stance, at least just a little bit.
In the Beginning
The original history of the Rasta bracelets goes back to the 1930s. Started in that decade, the Rastafaris believed that eventually all of the displaced people of their race would be once again unified in Africa. They wore the bracelets to show their solidarity to one another and the movement as well as other traditional clothing, all made from natural fibers. One of the most common of the natural fibers is hemp, which can be made into virtually anything.
The Meanings behind the Colors of the Rasta Bracelets
The three colors of these bracelets are chosen because of 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 people of the world and all living things that walk on the planet. Yellow or gold represents the treasures or riches that people cherish whether they are material or spiritual in nature. Green symbolizes the color of the earth that all living creatures walk on and that the Rasta people hold dear.
Alternate Meanings of the Colors
There are alternate meanings to the colors in the Rasta bracelets, however. For some purists, the colors apply only to the Rastafari people. The red is for only their blood and the yellow is for all the gold and other treasures stolen from their culture. The green is the symbol of Africa, the greatest of their stolen treasures.
Other Symbols Added to the Rasta Bracelets
In addition to the three colors that are used for the Rasta bracelets, there are other items that are traditionally added to them to tie them back to the culture itself. These can include symbols of Africa or Jamaica and can be woven into the design or tied on when the bracelet is completed. The most common symbol added to Rasta bracelets is the marijuana leaf.