Samburu Butterfly People

The ornaments, clothing, and hair styles of this colorful community

By National Museums of Kenya

Samburu Warrior, Kenya by Angela Fisher & Carol BeckwithAfrican Ceremonies

Meet the Samburu

Internationally known for their beautiful and colorful ornaments, attire and hairstyles, the Samburu community are sometimes referred to as 'The Butterfly People'.

Samburu Warrior's Adornment by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

They make clothes and ornaments from animal skin, beads, shells and brass. Men dye their hair with red ochre. Warriors (Morans) keep their long hair in braids, and dress in more colourful attire than other members of the community.

Samburu Warrior Adorned by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

The women adorn themselves in beautiful multi-colored beaded necklaces, and other traditional jewelry.

Samburu Warrior's Hairstyle by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

Young warriors (morans) wear ornaments and dye their braided hair in red ochre.         

NecklaceNational Museums of Kenya


This women's necklace is made of elephant tail hair, each threaded with an old-style bead.

NecklaceNational Museums of Kenya

This kind of huge collar necklace would only be made and worn by married women. It is made of rows of different coloured beads strung on wire with cooking spacers.

Samburu Man Jewellery by Joy AdamsonNational Museums of Kenya

This Samburu man is wearing a beaded earring on his stretched earlobe.

EarringsNational Museums of Kenya

These colorful beaded earrings are worn by attaching them over the head.         

EarringsNational Museums of Kenya

Beaded leather earrings with beads in triangles. This is an unusual pattern of decoration, called Ldungot. These earrings are worn only by wives of the Merisho (the oldest living age-set).         

Ceremonial EarringsNational Museums of Kenya

Made with brass wire and coiled to the required shape, these beautiful earrings hang from the earlobes.          

Ceremonial cloakNational Museums of Kenya


A ceremonial goatskin cloak painted with red ochre and decorated with white cowries. It would have been worn over the shoulder by boys prior to being circumcised.         

BeltNational Museums of Kenya

This colorful beaded belt is worn by young morans, and sometimes even given to their girlfriends as a token of their love.         

Moran ClothNational Museums of Kenya

This red ochre cotton cloth was worn by morans as a skirt while dancing during ceremonies.          

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