Beaded Gifts (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Beadwork jewellery is an important part of Maasai culture. For centuries, jewellery has been used as an everyday adornment to represent social aspects established in the community, like age sect and marital status. They are also given as gifts at ceremonies and to visitors as a sign of gratitude and respect.
Generations to come (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Traditionally, the art of beadwork was passed from generation to generation, with mothers teaching their daughters when young.
Anna Sileyan (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Bridal jewellery is a more elaborate affair, with many parts that are worn from head to toe. To know more about bridal jewellery, we spoke to Anna Sileyan, a Maasai woman in the Losimingori village of Arusha, Tanzania.
Rafael (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
How did she meet her husband?
She married her husband Rafael in March 2015. Traditionally, the bride's parents choose the groom, but Anna chose Rafael as her husband after meeting him in the market where she worked as a waitress in one of the restaurants.
Anna (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Her parents were initially forcing her to marry someone who was not ready for her marriage. She shares, “I was only able to complete my primary school and Form 1 because of Rafael. The other boy came to school and asked for me to be removed.”
Elisha (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
She is now happily married to Rafael. She has a child named Elisha, which means “Lightness”.
Not without jewellery (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Jewellery, water and sugar
In December 2014, two months before her wedding, she received bridal jewellery. As per the traditions, the groom has to buy the jewellery, and his mother brings it to the house of the bride. Along with it, she also brings water, sugar and clothes.
Beaded necklace (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Some norms are followed for marriage, Anna shared. “For example, between the engagement and the marriage, you are not allowed to see the bride.” Another norm is that the groom cannot bring his bride without the jewellery. Even if he has to sell his cows, he must buy jewellery."
Anna's sister-in-law (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Anna’s sister-in-law, Nesriyan, makes bridal jewellery and sells it in the market. She graciously agreed to show us how the bridal jewellery is adorned.
Anna's wedding (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
Here is what the bride wears, along with their traditional names in Maa language.
Big chain with cross: Emusalaba
White teeth chain: Ingalashe
Anklets: Imusitani Waongejek
Beadwork of Maasai Culture (2021) by Vibhor YadavProject FUEL
With the passage of time, there are many changes that can be seen in Maasai society. Earlier, the bridal jewellery was made by the mother of the bride. But now, they are mostly bought in the market.
Project FUEL would like to thank the Maasai community in the Losimingori village of Arusha, Tanzania for opening their hearts and home to this research.
This exhibit is part of the Wise Wall Project, an initiative of Project FUEL, to document, design, and strengthen the wisdom of rural communities and marginalized villages using art and community outreach programs. In the third edition of this project, we collaborated with the Maasai, in Arusha, Tanzania, to build an on-ground community centre for the people and bring an exclusive insight into the life, lifestyle, and learnings of this inspiring community.
Photography: Vibhor Yadav, Siddharth Govindan
Wall Murals: Poornima Sukumar
Canvas Art: Advithi Emmi
Cultural Consultant and Translators: Kaay Ndoika Lengima, Elisha Olchakai Kirumui and Lemali Ndoika
Research, Interviews and Curation: Project FUEL
Project Partners: Vijana Inspiring Foundation, Vikram Solar Ltd., Lions Club of Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Google Arts & Culture