A belly chain or waist chain are the popular English terms for the Kamarband/Udiyanam, which is a type of body jewelry worn around the waist. Some belly chains attach to a navel piercing; these are also called "pierced belly chains". They are often made of silver or gold. Sometimes a thread is used around the waist instead of a chain. A belly chain is a common adornment for belly dancers.
Use of waist chains can be traced back to 4000 years or more originating in India. Historically, waist chains have been used in Eastern countries, specifically India, by men and women, as ornaments and as part of religious ceremonies, as accessories and to show affluence.
Many ancient sculptures and paintings from locations in India, dating back to the Indus Valley civilization, indicate that waist chains were a very popular jewelry. Around the world, an increasing number of women including celebrities are wearing waist ornaments. In Maldives, it was reported that scholars, magistrates and other influential people wore silver chains around their waists before the 1680s. Sayyid Mohammed arrived in Male’ when he heard that Maldives was filled with what he called "forbidden practices." He banned men from wearing waist chains as part of his effort to remove superstition and heresy. Some men complied; in other cases chains were forcibly removed. Many deities in the Hindu religion, such as Lord Krishna, wore waist chains. A waistband called cummerbund or patka was a part of the medieval upper class costume of Rajasthanis.
A 14th century poetry indicates that the waist chain has been a fashion for men in some parts: "The golden waist chain, and fine skirts, resting upon his rainbow waist, beautifully shining."
 Also, most Historians believe that the usage of waist beads may have originated from the Yoruba tribe majorly found in present day Nigeria, West Africa. The origin of waist beads is also linked to other West African countries like Ghana and Senegal.
Belly chains were said to be known as girdles in ancient Egypt. Scholars believe that it was a symbol of status for women in ancient Egypt.
Belly chains are common among women in India. In some regions waist chains are common among men as well. In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu every newborn receives a waist chain as a cultural pact.
Namboothri men generally wear waist strings even as adults. In some aristocratic families, Namboothiri men wore a flattened triple gold string around the waist. As a Hindu custom newborns get a waist chain (Aranjanam) on the 28th day after their birth. In Kerala and, a state in India, almost all newborns irrespective of the religious affiliation get a waist chain. Although many boys generally abandon waist chains during their teenage years, a large fraction of the girls and a sizable number of boys continue to wear waist chains as adults. A follower of Lord Siva is expected to wear a chain, with Rudrakshas strung in a white chain with one hundred beads, around the waist. In Lakshdweep a silver thread is worn by both men and women. Dhodia and Kathodis are Katkari men use ornaments around the waist.
For cultural reasons, waist chains became a fashion accessory for women and men in many parts of the world.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Belly chains.|