There is no doubt that Masai crafts does not leave anyone indifferent, whether for their beauty and color or simply for the energy that their necklaces, bracelets and pendants seem to transmit, it is as if all the charm and attractiveness of the African savannah is condensed in them. In this post we are going to try to explain a little the Masai crafts history and the meaning of some of its elements
Throughout the Masai history, their crafts have been a fundamental part of their own culture. It is the Masai woman who, spending time every day, is in charge of designing and creating various handmade jewels full of magic and color. And although they are the ones who gather and work these ornaments made with their own hands, they serve as ornaments for both men and women.
It is about bracelets, earrings, pendants, necklaces and even belts what these women do by hand with colored beads, the fact of learning this art is considered a tradition for the Masai community.
Where does the beads (seeds) denomination come from?
Initially, in the late 1800s and before Europeans arrived in Kenya, Masai women used the natural materials available to them such as dry grass, sticks, mud, shells, bones to create their traditional ornaments.
With the arrival of the Europeans and as time went by, they began to use crystal beads that they managed to obtain from other communities through trade to this day. Today, glass continues to be the main resource used by the Masai tribe to create their jewelry.
All Masais creations, in addition to being enormously beautiful, have a meaning depending on when they are used. The ornaments that a Masai wears, usually refer to their age, marital status, weddings and the different groups within the tribe. But the most decorated are women, especially young women.
In addition, the colors used in the beads are not random, but everything has its meaning, being an indication of the prosperity and creativity of the ornament bearer.
The Masai woman usually uses certain necklaces on special occasions and at different times in her life:
Young single women wear a large disc-like necklace around their neck, which they move when they dance in order to show through the movement of the disc their grace and flexibility.
On their wedding day, women wear a very elaborate and heavy necklace that sometimes even hangs to the knees.
A Masai woman when she is getting married wears a Nborro, which is a long necklace with blue and white beads. This necklace is given by the mother or grandmother and at the time of being married it is returned. It is a way to bless their marriage.
Colors Meaning for the Masai
Each color has a specific meaning and a symbolic value that only they understand.
Often, these meanings are associated with livestock, with which they have a special connection as it is their main source of food.
Red – Symbolizes bravery, unity and strength.
White – Represents peace, purity and health.
Blue – Represents energy, sky, and water.
Orange and Yellow – They mean hospitality.
Green – Symbolizes the earth and nature in general.
Black – Represents Africa.
you can buy some of these wonderful handmade jewelry by the Masai women themselves, where the 100 of the global profits are donated to this community. In addition, each piece is unique.
We leave you some characteristics of our Masai crafts:
- · Leather and bead Bracelets
All our leather and seed bracelets are made with recycled leather, made and treated in Spain. All our leather and bead bracelets are made with recycled leather, made and treated in Spain. The leather cuts are sent from Spain to the Masai women community and, once there, they are in charge of sewing all the leather cuts with the beads one by one, forming the decoration of the different bracelets.
Subsequently, they return to Spain where the final finish is carried out in the social company A Puntadas, a textile clothing company that works with women in social exclusion.
- · Beads and fishing lines Bracelets and Necklaces
These bracelets and necklaces are entirely made by Masai women. The base is fishing line through which they pass, by hand, bead by bead, with the difficulty that this entails and always keeping in mind the final design of the product.
For both Masai women and men, the beauty of their crafts and all that it represents and symbolizes is a fundamental aspect of their culture.
And you. Are you going to be seduced by the Maasai Mara magic and color?