23 Dec 2018

The Masais and their Culture : a people worth knowing

The Masais
Image The Masais and their Culture : a people worth knowing

Maasai live in the bushland and deserts near the game parks in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are nomadic. They are renowned for their unique customs and dress. 

Despite the efforts of the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to persuade them to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle, most Maasai people continue to stick to their traditions and customs. Many tourists from all over the world go to Tanzania and Kenya to discover the Maasai culture and traditions and to experience their lifestyle.

Maasai Culture

Maasai people are unique in many ways. In fact, their culture is characterized by body modification, clothing, and other unusual customs. 

  • Unique physical appearance: To modify their body, it is customary for Maasai people to pierce and stretch their earlobes. Ear modification is common for both Maasai men and women. In fact, two ears are pierced and then they are stretched up to the jaw level. Women hang beaded ornaments in the stretched ear lobes. Apart from that, they also have piercings at the top of the ears at which they put on other kinds of jewelry. 
  • Colorful clothing: Traditionally, Maasai people wore clothes made of animal skin especially from calf and sheep skin. However, as by 1960 the Maasais began to wear cotton cloth. Black, red and blue are the predominant colors. Clothing varies according to age and location. After their circumcision it is customary for young men to wear black and to carry a wooden club or an o-rinka. Women, on the other hand, wear a colourful piece of cloth which is known as the shuka. In addition, they wear special sandals, which are made from cowhide with tire or plastic soles. 
  •  Accessories: Maasai women have colorful ornaments in their stretched earlobes and on top of their ears. In addition, they wear colorful beads around the neck. Both men and women wear handmade wooden bracelets. 
  • Colors and their meaning: The most common colors of the Maasai clothes are blue, red and black. Red is their favorite. It symbolizes bravery or blood at the war. Black is another important color. It symbolizes enduring pain in silence and bravery. Blue is the symbol of water. 
  • Maasai culture : Circumcision is a unique feature of the Maasai culture. Boys and girls are circumcised. Two days prior to their circumcision, the boy's or the girl's head is shaved. Circumcision in crucial for women to become marriageable. Circumcision is performed without anaesthetic. The wound heals after 4 to 8 months. After circumcision, it is the custom for boys and girls to dress in black until they have completely recovered. In addition, their faces are painted with markings, and their faces are covered on completion of the ceremony.

Meeting the Maasais in their homeland

The Maasai or the nomadic people of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya are unique due to their customs and lifestyle. Their homestead is a popular destination which attracts tourists every year.

To know more about the Maasais, it is advisable to book a flight to Tanzania or Kenya through eDreams. As an online travel agency, it can advise you on where to discover the Maasai, and when to go. Accommodation and cars to go across your destinations can also be booked through eDreams.