Maasai Crafts and Fashions

The beautiful craftsmanship and distinctive fashions of the Maasai community

By National Museums of Kenya

Female Companions of Maasai Warriors (1988) by Carol Beckwith & Angela FisherAfrican Ceremonies

A distinctive dress sense

The Maasai community are known for their distinctive dress and decorative beaded jewelry. Different Maasai sub-groups can be distinguished by the color combinations of their beaded jewelry.

Maasai shawlNational Museums of Kenya

Woven identity

The Maasai blanket or 'red shuka cloth' is perhaps one of the most recognizable symbols of Kenya and the Maasai identity. The Maasai blanket is dominantly red, and made of strong thread, enabling it to endure the harsh weather.

NecklaceNational Museums of Kenya

Beaded jewelry

The Maasai are known for making decorative beaded jewelry including necklaces, earrings, headbands, wrist and ankle bracelets.    

Bead NecklaceNational Museums of Kenya

This Enkononkoi, blue beaded necklace, is strung on a cowhide thong. It was made and worn to show that a woman had many daughters to be circumcised or married. It was also given to men by their fathers as an inheritance.

BeltNational Museums of Kenya

This long leather strap is cut from cow skin and decorated with coloured beads. It was made by a skilled craftsgirl and worn by warriors, as an accessory around the waist, when performing traditional dances. 

ApronNational Museums of Kenya

Worn by Maasai warriors, this apron is made of cow skin and decorated with metal and red, white, yellow, orange, green and blue beads.    

Leather bagNational Museums of Kenya

To make this bag, buffalo hide was folded while still wet, and the edges were stitched. When the hide was dry, the hairs were removed using a metal scraper. The bag was used to store food and personal objects.    

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