What Is The Maasai Tribe Known For? The Maasai tribe are one of the most iconic and recognizable ethnic group in East Africa who are located in the northern, central and Southern part of Kenya and in the northern part of Tanzania. The Maasai tribe they are famously known for their rich cultural heritage, traditional ways of life, distinctive customs and many others. More so, the Maasai people are well renowned for their vibrant dress codes, intricate ceremonies and unique beadwork hence making them to be a subject of fascination for both international and local observers.
The Maasai people have a history whereby they are believed to have migrated from the Nile region and moved to different parts in East Africa. Despite of the different challenges that they faced such as; having conflicts with the neighbouring communities and the colonial influences, the Maasai people have learnt to preserve their distinct cultural identity.
In addition, one of the commonly ways to identify the massai tribe is that they are traditional nomadic pastoralism who are known to have been cattle herders therefore they only rely on livestock farming for their wealth and as a way of survival. In addition, these cattle holds a cultural and economic significance, which symbolizes their status and plays a crucial role in various rituals. More so, the Maasai nomadic lifestyle always involves individuals to move their cattle across various stretches of land while searching for water and pasture for the animals. However, below we will explore more about the facts that tourists should know about the Maasai tribe and some of these include;
Facts about Maasai Tribe.
Rituals and ceremonies. The rituals and ceremonies are important within the Maasai culture and the most ceremony performed is known as “EUNOTO”. This ceremony marks the transition of young warriors into adulthood. More so, the other reason why this circumcision is conducted is that it is seen as a symbol of maturity of both girls and boys. In addition, these ceremonies are usually accompanied with dancing, singing, and many other traditional rituals, which strengthen ones bond with the community.
Maasai Shelter – The Maasai tribe are historically nomadic people who have relied on readily available materials and indigenous technology to construct their unusual and interesting housing. In addition, there houses were designed as for people on the move, therefore there houses were very impermanent in nature and are circular or loaf – shaped. More so, women usually made the construction of these houses. Their villages are enveloped in a circular fence locally known as Enkanga, which is built by the men hence protecting their cattle at night from thieves and wild animals.
Maasai Culture. The Maasai people believe that a man who has plenty of cattle but not many children is considered to be poor and vice versa, a Maasai myth says that God afforded them all the cattle on earth, resulting in the belief that rustling from other tribes is a matter of claiming what is rightfully theirs, a practice that has now become much less common.
Maasai Religion – The Maasai people are monotheistic and their God is named Engai or Enkai, a God who is mostly benevolent and who manifests himself in the form of different colors for example;
- Black and dark blue mean that the God is well – disposed towards men
- Red – is identified with God’s irritation
More so, Enkai has two manifestations, which include;
- Enkai – Narok – the Black God, good and beloved brings grass and prosperity. He is found in thunder and rain
- Enkai – na – Nyokie, the Red God, vengeful brings famine and hunger. He is found in lighting and is identified with the dry season.
Therefore, the importance of cattle to the Maasai can be traced back to their religion and to Enkai. However, today most of the Maasai people are Christians and very few are Muslims.
Maasai Diet – The traditional Maasai diet consists of six basic foods that is meat, blood, milk, fat, honey and tree bark. They drink both fresh and curdled milk. The fresh milk is drunk from calabash and sometimes it is mixed with fresh cattle blood, the blood is obtained by nicking the jugular vein. Mixed blood and milk is mostly used a ritual drink and as nourishment for the sick.
Bulls, oxen and lambs are slaughtered for meat on special occasions and for ceremonies.
The by-products of the animals – skin and hides are used as bedding while cow dung is used for building; it is smeared on the walls. The Maasai’s entire way of life truly revolves around their cattle, more recently the Maasai people have supplemented their diet with farm crops such as maize, meal, rice, cabbage among other food crops.
Maasai Clothing. The Maasai people are also well known for their elaborate and colorful attires whereby both men and women are always seen to adorn themselves with beautiful beadwork and ornaments. In addition, the colors and patterns of their beadwork always portray different meanings such as; their age, social status, marital status and many others. More so, the iconic red clothing worn by these Maasai people is made from the shuka, which is a traditional fabric hence serving both functional and many other symbolic purposes.
In addition, regularly, the Maasai women weave and bead jewellery, which plays an essential part in the ornamentation of their body. Ear piercing and the stretching of earlobes are also part of Maasai beauty and both men and women metal hoops on their stretched earlobes.
Maasai Hair: both women and men mostly shave their head to celebrate rites of passage such as circumcision and marriage. This represents the fresh start that will be made as one passes from one to another of life’s chapters. It is only the Maasai warriors who are allowed to wear long hair, which they weave, in thinly braided strands.
Maasai Music and Dance: The Maasai people do not use instruments when they are singing or dancing. All of their music is vocal except for the large horns used for certain songs.
Contact our trusted tour operators for more information about what the Maasai tribe is famously known for and then book with our tours and travel companies such as; Focus East Africa tours who offer the best tour packages while on your safari in Kenya and Tanzania.