Maasai

thumb_PB170326Learning beading from Maasai women 11/2010Upon entering a Maasai boma (village) you are instantly transported to days gone by. You are greeted by the children of the boma who have stopped their play and let their curiosity take over. They are as full of wonder and delight as you are. As other people of the village realize your presence, they hurry into their humble abodes to don their finest ceremonial beadwork. Now the true greeting takes place and the boma is filled with much chanting, singing, and dancing, the colors and movement now becoming intoxicating. This is the Maasai of today. You can enjoy a visit to a Maasai village, where youʼll meet with the Maasai and experience their long-standing traditions. They will welcome you into their lives, dress you in their robes and beadwork, and teach you some of their traditions. The Maasai are a most gracious and welcoming people.

VIDEO: Watch some typical interaction with Maasai

VIDEO: Watch the Maasai women beading.

The Maasai wear their age old traditions and way of life like their clothing. It is a bright and colorful past. The Maasai are famous as herders and warriors, and they once dominated the plains of East Africa. They date back to Maasai_young_girlthe 15th century and have kept their traditions and way of life intact throughout the years.

Along the roadside, you will see men and boys herding cattle and sheep. Occasionally, you will see women carrying large bundles on their heads. All are dressed in brightly colored attire and are very interesting to see. These are the jobs of the day. The women also do detailed beadwork and are thrilled to show you how they make their wares.

The Maasai, today, are probably best known for their beadwork and its brightly colored and intricate patterns. The women will work on beadwork throughout the day between their other chores of watching the children, cooking, milking the cows, and constructing homes. Beadwork is an important element through which Maasai women demonstrate their social understanding and creative capabilities.

At the end of the visit, you will have the opportunity to purchase some of their beautiful beadwork. Your purchases have a positive affect on the lives of the Maasai, as the money is shared among the village. From our point of view, the jewelry is inexpensive. But, from their point of view, the money goes a long way. There is something truly special about purchasing beadwork directly from Maasai women in their Maasai village. The very women who you sang and danced with are the women who crafted these beautiful pieces of art.

Maasai_dancingColor has deep meaning for the Maasai. Blue and green represent water and food and health. Red signifies bravery, strength, and unity. Orange and yellow represent hospitality. White is considered pure and holy, while black represents hardships and the struggles we go through in life. Often boys will wear black on their journey to become a man in the Maasai world.

The Tanzanian government has tried to change the Maasai and bring them into the current socio-economic status of the area, but the Maasai have held fast to their beliefs and traditions and choose to live the life they have always lived. It is a fascinating visit and one not to be missed while in Tanzania.

VIDEO: Maasai Women's Group