When come to interesting and finely crafted beads and jewelry the Maasai people are truly talented. Whether you’re looking to spice up a bracelet design or add a pop of color to a home decor centerpiece Maasai Beads make for perfect accent pieces. Here at The Bead Chest we offer a range of Maasai beads in tones from navy blue to pistachio green we know you’ll be able to find the perfect shade for your next design project.
The Maasai are a Nilotic ethnic group from central and southern Kenya, as well as, some areas in Northern Tanzania. Commonly groups and settlements of Maasai people can be found living and working near lakes. The Maasai people are known to be great cattle-rustlers and have a reputation for having fearsome warriors. The Maasai society is very patriarchal in nature. The Maasai people look to the elder men in their communities to make most of the major decisions. Generally the men of the tribes take care of the animals, as well as, hunting while the woman keep things up around camp and milk the animals. The Maasai are a monotheistic people and worship one deity called Enkai. Traditionally the Maasai have a history of being semi-nomadic. The Maasai rely on the available materials around them to build their homes and animal shelters. Maasai dwellings are usually made up of a framework of timber poles then plastered with mud, sticks, ash and cow dung and sticks to hold up the structures.
The Maasai are well known for their traditional handmade jewelry. The beadworking done by Maasai woman has a long history and jewelry is commonly created and used to express one's individual identity in the tribe. The beads and types of jewelry individuals in Maasai communities wear can signify things like age and social status. Tribe elders and others of high social standing will wear more intricate and colorful jewelry. Unmarried Maasai girls will often wear large beaded disks around their necks. Married Maasai women commonly wear long blue necklaces to signify their marital status. Before contact with Europeans, Maasai beads were produced from mostly local and raw materials. White beads were made from clay, shell, ivory and bone. Black beads were made from iron, charcoal, seeds, horn and clay, Red beads came from various woods, seeds, gourds, bone, ivory, copper and brass. Around the late 19th century a huge amount of brightly colored glass beads arrived to Southeast Africa and many Maasai beadmakers started incorporating glass beads into their jewelry designs.
The Maasai people also believe that each color of beads have different meanings and uses. Red jewelry is said to stand for bravery and unity. White jewelry signifies peace, purity and health. Blue jewelry represents rainfall, the sky, and positive energy. Orange jewelry symbolizes hospitality. Yellow jewelry is said to symbolize healthy livestock. Green Maasai beads symbolize health and the earth and black Maasai beads represent struggle and the process of life. Throughout the years custom Maasai beads and jewelry have been and still continue to be a important source of income for the Maasai people!
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the Maasai culture please go ahead and take your time to browse this amazing curated section of Maasai beads. We know you’ll be able to find the perfect strand of Maasai beads for your next jewelry design project.