Turkana Ceremonial Celebrations

Discover the traditional costumes and dances of Turkana ceremonies

By National Museums of Kenya

Turkana festivalNational Museums of Kenya

Meet the Turkana

The Turkana are one of the largest nomadic communities in Kenya, traditionally located around Lake Turkana. They are known for their basket weaving and the annual Lake Turkana Cultural Festival, which showcases the community's traditional ceremonial dances and costumes.

Turkana DanceNational Museums of Kenya

Traditional dance

Turkana women and men perform traditional dances wearing ceremonial costumes like these, made from animal skin and fitted with decorative beads. Here they are also wearing traditional beaded necklaces and coiled aluminium armbands.    

Turkana FestivalNational Museums of Kenya

These men in traditional costume are preparing to perform a cultural dance.

Turkana DanceNational Museums of Kenya

Like other Kenyan communities, the Turkana are known for their traditional high-jumping dance, during which men jump as high as they can.

LegbellsNational Museums of Kenya

Leg bells

These leg bells were made by a blacksmith from scrap iron sewn onto khaki cloth, and used for dancing by both men and women. Worn below the knee, they were used especially at wedding ceremonies.

Head OrnamentNational Museums of Kenya

Head ornament

This is an ornament used to stick into a mud pack coiffure to hold ostrich feathers. It has a number of deep holes formed of string topped with woven fine copper wire. It was made and used only by men.

HeadrestNational Museums of Kenya

Ceremonial seating

During Turkana ceremonies, men usually sit on a headrest or stool in a semi-circular formation to perform traditional rituals.

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Learn about the communities of Kenya

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