Journal — Maasai Beadwork

The Symbolic Power of Maasai Beadwork

Cultural traditions Fair trade Maasai Beadwork Makers Tanzania Women artisans

The Symbolic Power of Maasai Beadwork

Prior to contact with Europeans, Maasai women crafted intricate adornments with beads they made from clay, wood, bone, copper, brass, shells, seeds, and dried grasses. Glass beads were introduced in the 19thcentury by Europeans. Beaded jewelry is worn by both men and women. The colors and patterns communicate information about the wearer’s age, social status, marital status and whether they have male or female children. Both men and women wear beaded pendants that signify the age class or generation to which they belong. The colors and arrangements of beads in jewelry and other embellished objects is a symbolic language meant...

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