Jewelry as a Cultural Practice Beaded jewelry is not just decorative, but a vital aspect of Maasai culture. Jewelry is made and worn to indicate age and social status as well as to mark important events. Though both men and women wear jewelry, women are primarily in charge of making it.
The beaded handmade jewelry from the Maasai women is a tradition from this tribe, located in Southern Kenya. Before, the tribe used natural resources to create their jewelry. Clay, wood, bone, copper and brass are just few of the materials that were used.
The Maasai are famous and easily recognizable thanks to their traditional robe, the Shuka; it is a bright-colored cloth, predominantly red, wrapped around their lean and slender frames; red symbolizes Maasai culture and it is the color believed by these people to be able to scare off lions even from a great distance.
Beads of the Maasai were traditionally made out of local products – Bones, clay, wood, copper or brass – those natural resources got set aside as soon as tiny glass and ceramic beads became available through trade with Europeans. Today, most of them come from the Czech republic!
It’s a sort of mating dance, a way for a young Maasai man who has just become a warrior to demonstrate his strength and attract a bride.
The Maasai culture is renowned for its music and dance, in which a leader (known as the olaranyani) sings the melody while others sing polyphonic harmony on call-and-response vocals and make guttural throat-singing sounds to provide rhythmic syncopation.
They are the tallest people on earth but the Maasai do get very close. With their long limbs, they belong to the tallest people of Africa. It’s because of their rich calcium diet that they are so tall. They seem taller because of their world famous high jumps.
Aramaic. “expected savior or deliverer”
Zulu beads were historically used as a language between men and women, to express their feelings, relationship status, or to convey a message on the appropriate behaviour expected from the opposite sex. The Zulu’s only use one geometric shape in their beading and jewellery work – the triangle.
The Maasai are monotheist and they believe in Enkai (also known as Engai), a God who is mostly benevolent and who manifests himself in the form of different colors, according to the feelings he is experiencing.
The Maasai do not believe as an after life. Most dead bodies are simply thrown to the wild forests for scavengers. Burials are believed to harm the soil and is reserved only for some chiefs. In fact, in some occasions, the dead would be smeared with fat so as to easily attract wild animals to eat the bodies.
In Maa language you can greet a Maasai women by saying “yeyo, takwenya!” and the Maasai woman will reply you “iko”!
Green – Abundance, fertility, nature and prosperity. Orange – Courage, self confidence and vitality. Pink – Care, beauty, love and kindness. Purple – Royalty, spirituality and wisdom.
Beads, whether sewn on apparel or worn on strings, have symbolic meanings that are far removed from the simplistic empiricism of the Western anthropologist. They, or pendants, may for instance be protective, warding off evil spirits or spells, or they can be good luck charms.
Krobo powder glass beads Formerly used as a trading currency, these beads are named after the region where they’re made. They’re possibly the most popular African beads. The beads are created from layers of powdered glass mixed with dyes and poured into moulds.