Maasai mamas form the backbone of the community rich culture.
Maasai women are the most enterprising members of the Maasai community. They rise early every day to milk cattle, collect firewood, prepare breakfast thereafter fetch water, launder clothes and before embarking a busy afternoon beading and crafting. They also collect herbs and roots recommended by traditional medicine-men for young babies and also other herbs for de-worming older children. With the help of their daughters they also collect sticks, grass, and cow dung used to build the Enkaji (housing unit). The most interesting part of the Maasai mamas’ chores is making decorative beadwork for a husband, sons, and daughters and also for themselves. After a long busy day, they prepare dinner for their families in the evening; they narrate interesting stories to tuck in their children before they get to sleep. They are the last to retire to bed and first to wake very early.
Maasai Mamas Beading
The mamas sit together with their in daughters small groups under trees to craft the next beautiful handicraft. Young mature girls try their best effort to please their boyfriends by crafting the most attractive and appealing jewelry and hope that their boyfriends would like them. If a one constructs a piece of jewelry that is awkward or unappealing, the other mamas might tease her and quickly point out the flaws in her work. This makes the mamas and the young mamas (daughters) learn the rules of aesthetic eye. This is essential because the colour combinations and patterns in Maasai beadwork rely on contrast and balance to create pieces that are eye-catching. Colours also reflect important concepts and elements in Maasai culture. Much of the colour symbolism relates the cattle, environment and the Maasai way of life.
Significance of Maasai Bead Colors
Blue: Represent the sky, God (known as Enkai in Maa language of the Maasai) who provides water (rain) for the cows.
Green: Signifies plenty of pastures, vegetation after rainfall (olari) and peace. It also represents the help of the community.
White: Milk and purity also represents good health, because it is milk that nourishes the community.
Red: Cows blood, warriors, danger, bravery, strength and honour. It is the colour of the blood from the cow that is slaughtered on special ceremonies and celebrations.
Black: Represents the colour of the people, tolerance and the hardships the Maa have gone in preserving their culture. It also symbolizes the wild animals around Maasai community.
Orange: Color preferred by women, shows hospitality, because it is the colour of the milk gourds, used to store guests milk.
Yellow: symbolizes sunshine, hospitality and fruit used for tribal body tattoo.