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The Maasai of Africa

The Maasai of Africa

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The Maasai of Africa

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  1. The Maasai of Africa By Karen Correa FCS214, Fall 2003

  2. Introduction • Semi-nomadic pastoralists • Southern Kenya and northern Tanzania • Tropical Savannah Climate • Semi-arid lands • 61-74 degree F • 20-40 inches rain (November – May)

  3. General Characteristics • Lifestyle • Livestock – survival of the Maasai! • Wooden and dung houses • Blood and milk • Male age-system • Women were sub-ordinate & subservient

  4. Traditional Dress/Appearance • Treated and de-haired animal skins • Men: Animal skin tied over one shoulder • Warriors: Small calf- or goat-skin capes • Iron rings and coils around the neck • Black capes after circumcision • Women: 2 leather aprons • Coils of iron wire on arms and legs • Shaved heads except warriors

  5. Adornment • Cicatrisation & Tattooing: Design with thorns and cut with razors • Circumcision: Most important ritual for boys • Clitoridectomy performed on girls • Contortion: From iron coils worn by women • Stilt legs & impaired mobility

  6. Adornment (contd.) • Piercing: Wore iron coils, chains, wires etc. • Elongation of ear lobes and creation of big holes • Paint: As a symbol, cure or for protection • Use of white paint by circumcised boys • Hair dressing: Only warriors wore pigtails • Mixture of red paint, animal fat and red earth to style hair used by warriors

  7. Dress/Appearance Today • Bright, colorful red cloth • Beaded ornaments are a very important part of the Maasai culture • Worn around neck, wrists, and through earlobes • Adornment: Circumcision & Piercing

  8. Reasons behind the Changes • Increased awareness of the Maasai • Wildlife and habitat conservationists • Markets for beads • Glass and plastic beads sold as fashionable items

  9. Summary • One of the most traditional cultures that exist in Africa today! • Not much change in lifestyle or clothing.

  10. Questions ???