Maasai Tribe Facts, Culture, Language, Religion, History, Diet & Clothing
The nomadic and pastoral Maasai people are a Nilotic ethnic group that inhabits some but significant portions of northern, central, and southern Kenya as well as across the border in northern Tanzania. They are one of the most well-known tribes in Africa. Due to their historical origins in the regions surrounding the Masai Mara Game Reserve and Amboseli, which are close to the Tanzanian border, the Maasai are arguably the more well-known ethnic group in East Africa. The Kalenjin tribe of Kenya, noted for producing some of the best long distance runners in the world, shares Nilotic ancestry with the Maasai, who speak the language known as Maa. The clothes, cuisine, and manner of life of the Maasai are only a few of the many distinctive features of their culture that have been mentioned below.
24 HOURS Living With a Maasai Tribe in KENYA
Historically a nomadic culture, the Maasai have built their odd and fascinating homes utilizing locally available materials and technology. Because the Maasai traditional house was made for people who were always on the move, their homes were extremely transient. The homes are created by women and are either round or loaf-shaped. The men constructed a circular Enkang (fence) around their villages to keep wild animals out at night and safeguard the cattle.
MAASAI TRIBE: Origin and Culture [Kenya and Tanzania]
The Maasai tribes’ key decisions are made by older Maasai men, perhaps with the assistance of retired elders. Maasai society is strongly patriarchal in nature. When a Maasai person chooses to live a traditional lifestyle, there isn’t really a proper funeral ceremony; instead, the deceased are left in the fields for scavengers. Since the Maasai believe that burial harms the soil, burial has historically only been performed for great chiefs.
Enkai manifests in two ways:
The benevolent and adored Black God Enkai-Narok delivers vegetation and prosperity. He is located in the rain and thunder.
The Red God, Enkai-na-Nyokie, is vengeful and brings famine and hunger. He is discovered in a lightning strike and is connected to the dry season. Cattle are significant to the Maasai because of their religion and Enkai. Today, just a small minority of Maasai are Muslims and the majority are Christians.
Traditional Maasai diets include meat, blood, milk, fat, honey, and tree bark. These six essential items make up the Maasai diet. Both fresh and curdled milk is consumed by them. Fresh cow blood may occasionally be added to the fresh milk before it is consumed from a calabash. The jugular vein is punctured to get the blood. Blood and milk mixtures are typically consumed ceremonially and as food for the ill. On important occasions and during ceremonies, bulls, oxen, and lambs are slaughtered for their meat. Skins and hides from the animals are used as bedding, and cow dung is employed in construction (it is smeared on the walls). Cattle are the center of the Maasai people’s entire way of life. The Maasai people have recently added farm products to their diet, including rice, cabbage, and maize meal, among other foods.
By sex, age, and location, clothing differs. After getting their navels shaved, young men don black for several months. The Maasai, however, favor the color red. African clothing in a variety of colors is worn along with black, blue, checkered, and striped fabrics. The Maasai started switching over to more commercial materials in the 1960s, replacing sheepskin, calf skins, and animal skin. In the Maa language, the cloth used to wrap the body is referred to as Shkà. The Maasai women frequently weave and bead jewelry, which is a crucial component of their body decoration. Maasai beauty also includes ear piercing and elongated earlobes, and both men and women wear metal hoops on these features.
Most of the time, Maasai men and women commemorate rites of passage like marriage and circumcision by shaving their heads. This symbolizes the new beginning that will occur as one moves on to the next chapter of life. Only Maasai warriors are permitted to have long hair, which they braid into fine strands. The maasai children are referred to as “moons” when they turn 3 and have their heads completely shaved, save for a tuft of hair that resembles a cockade that grows from the nape of the neck to the forehead. Two days prior to their circumcision, the young boys also had their heads shaved. Then, the young warriors spend a lot of time letting their hair grow out.
Maasai Music and Dance:
When the Maasai sing or dance, they don’t utilize any instruments. With the exception of the big horns utilized in a few tracks, all of their music is vocal. Their songs are led by an olaranyani, or song leader, who sings the melody while a chorus of singers perform rhythms. The individual who can sing that song the best is typically the olaranyani. The entire group calls out in acknowledgement when olaranyani begins singing a line or song title (namba). While the Masai jump and dance, the beads that both the men and the women wear also make a jingling noise. Women hum tunes, repeat nursery rhymes, and sing songs that honor their sons. The rainy season, when singing and dancing are at their most popular, is naturally a good time to commemorate significant life events like marriage and circumcision. Flirting is included, and this typically happens around the manyattas.