Published on October 19th by staff under Tribe Facts. The Maasai tribe is a popular ethnic group inhabiting the African countries of Tanzania and Kenya. They have been a native of this region for a long time and their urge to retain their age-old traditions and semi-nomadic ways of life make them unique.
The Maasai tribe existed as early as the 15 th century in the lower region of the Nile valley, located to the north of the Lake Turkana. These people initially proceeded to settle towards the northern part of Kenya, and between the 17 th and 18 th century, they occupied the Central Tanzanian belt. In this process, they forcibly displaced many other ethnic groups previously inhabiting the lands.
However, some of the tribes, particularly the Southern Cushitic ethnic groups got merged into the Maasai. By the middle of the 19 th century, their territories expanded significantly, covering a significant portion of the Great Rift Valley, as well as the surrounding lands in the regions of Mount Marsabit and Dodoma to the northern and southern part respectively.
There was more to their suffering as a massive drought followed and lasted for a long time, killing many people of the tribe and also resulting in a steep dip in their population. Hence they were confined to the Narok and Kajiado districts which are also their present home. In the modern times, many of them are pastoralists and have also applied to Kenya and Tanzania to grant them grazing rights in the national parks Nairobi National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara which were once their home.
The Maasai people are known to speak in the Maa language, an Eastern Nilotic dialect. This corresponds to the Samburu spoken by the Kenyan tribe SamburuParakuyu the language of the Kwavi tribe and Chamus the language of the Ilchamus peoplelanguages, all of which are variations of Maa.
At present, however, their traditional language is gradually getting lost as Swahili and English is slowly taking over. Besides being pastoralists and herders, they were also great lion hunters in the past, considering it pride to slay the king of the jungle. Hunting and preying of the lion at present has been banned in the African countries. The Maasais were wholly pastoral people in the past, and their cattle supplied all of their diets. Not just the menfolk but also women and children are made to have it.
This ritual exists even at present though in a milder manner as the blood is mixed with milk and given to the sick or consumed during special occasions. While maize is eaten as a porridge known as ugali, the milk is had fresh or even added to sweet tea.Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.
If you purchase an item that I link to then I may make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. The Maasai Tribe are tribal peoples located in Eastern Africa. Personally, I find the tribe fascinating! So today I share with you 10 interesting facts about the Maasai Tribe! Often, tribes are specific to just one area. However, the Maasai Tribe inhabit northern, central and southern Kenya as well as northern Tanzania!
As far as records go, there are overMaasai Tribe members living in Kenya, and at leastin Tanzania. These are:. For the most part, the Maasai people live on the milk and meat their cattle. This how they get most of their protein and calories. In more recent years, some Maasai people have introduced other types of food into their diet: maize meal, potatoes, rice, and cabbage. Traditionally this is frowned upon, though.
This is because the Maasai see using the land for crop farming as a crime against nature, as it makes the ground no longer suitable for grazing. Maasai people drink blood on various occasions: when they are sick, have just been circumcised, or have just given birth. However as livestock numbers drop, blood is becoming less of a delicacy. This is definitely one of the more out-there facts about the Maasai Tribe! The language itself is part of the East Neolithic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family.
It is mostly a spoken language, as the tribe place such importance on vocalisation. However there is a Maasai dictionary, and the Bible has been translated into Maasai too. To hear some numbers and greetings in the Maasai language, as well as some the Maasai translation of the Parable, watch the video below!
There are approximately 36 Nilo-Saharan languages in total, with Maasai being just one of them. Maasai members also learn English and Swahili at school. These are the official languages of Kenya and Tanzania respectively. Members of the Maasai typically dress in red sheets. They are wrapped around the body, and multiple pieces of jewellery are worn over them. Men and women dress in a relatively similar way, too.
It is also common for members of the Maasai to have stretched ear lobe piercings. This is common with a lot of tribes, as you may have seen in images of tribal groups. However, the Maasai do it slightly differently. Whereas a lot of tribes keep wooden plugs in their stretched lobe piercings, Maasai members adorn the enlarged fistula with rows of beads as well as a single earring to weight it. That is, they move from place to place on seasonal rotation. This is so they always have green pastures and suitable land for their livestock: cows, goats, sheep and donkeys.
Despite owning other animals, it is cows that are particularly special to the Maasai people. Within their community, there is a belief that all of the cows in the world belong to them.One of the famous tribes of Africa, the nomadic and pastoralist Maasai people are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting selected but large parts of northern, central and southern Kenya and across the border in northern Tanzania as well. The Maasai are in part the better known ethnic people in East Africa due to their traditional origins from areas surrounding Masai Mara Game Reserve and Amboseli near the Tanzania border.
The Maasai speak a language known as Maa and their shared Nilotic origins link them in various ways to the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya which is famous for producing some of the best long distance runners in the world. The Maasai have plenty of unique characteristics about their culture and some of these have been listed below, including their dress, diet and way of life. Maasai Shelter: The Maasai tribe, historically a nomadic people, have traditionally relied on readily available materials and indigenous technology to construct their unusual and interesting housing.
The traditional Maasai house was designed for people on the move and thus their houses were very impermanent in nature. The houses are either circular or loaf-shaped, and are made by women. Their villages are enveloped in a circular Enkang fence built by the men and this protects their cattle at night from wild animals.
Maasai Traditional House Maasai Culture: Maasai society is firmly patriarchal in nature, with elder Maasai men sometimes joined by retired elders, determining most major matters for the Maasai tribes.
For Maasai people living a traditional way of life, the end of life is virtually without a formal funeral ceremony, and the dead are left out in the fields for scavengers.
Burial has in the past been reserved for great chiefs only, since it is believed by the Maasai that burial is harmful to the soil. Traditional Maasai people's lifestyle concentrates on their cattle which make up the primary source of food.
Amongst the Maasai the measure of a man's wealth is in terms of children and cattle. So the more the better. They 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 Moran Warriors Maasai Relion: 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, according to the feelings he is experiencing.
Enkai has two manifestations: 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 lightning and is identified with the dry season. The importance of cattle to the Maasai can be traced back to their religion and to Enkai. Today most of the Maasai people are christians and very few are muslims. Maasai Diet: The traditional Maasai diet consists of six basic foods: meat, blood, milk, fat, honey, and tree bark.A Maasai warrior is a fine sight.
Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic; daring and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal.
Maasai not Masai is the correct spelling of this noble tribe: it means people speaking maa. Masai was the incorrect spelling of the British settlers and has remained in current use. The Maasai have always been special. Their bright red robes set them apart visually. Spear in hand, they are calm and courageous regardless of the danger.
The armed British troops who drove the Maasai from their lands in the early 20th century had great respect for these fearless tribesmen.
Up until recently, the only way for a Maasai boy to achieve warrior status was to single-handedly kill a lion with his spear. Kenya recognizes over fifty tribes of native people. The Maasai were the dominating tribe at beginning of 20th century. They are one of the very few tribes who have retained most of their traditions, lifestyle and lore.
In common with the wildlife with which they co-exist, the Maasai need a lot of land. Unlike many other tribes in Kenya, the Maasai are semi-nomadic and pastoral: they live by herding cattle and goats.
The Maasai have not fared well in modern Africa. Until the European settlers arrived, fierce Maasai tribes occupied the most fertile lands. The Maasai struggled to preserve their territory, but their spears were no match for armed British troops, and their lawyers never had a fair chance in British courtrooms. Inthe Maasai signed a first agreement, losing the best of their land to the European settlers.
Seven years later, ina very controversial agreement was signed by a small group of Maasai, where their best Northern land Laikipia was given up to white settlers. Surely they did not fully understand what the consequences of such a treaty were, and anyway the signatories did not represent the entire tribe. With these two treaties, the Maasai lost about two-thirds of their lands and were relocated to less fertile parts of Kenya and Tanzania. In contrast, the Maasai have persisted in their traditional ways, so as Kenya takes more land for growing tribes and agriculture, they suffer.
Less land for an ever growing Kenyan population means less land for the Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife. More and more, a lion will take a cow or some goats and get killed in retaliation. Lions are a disappearing species: their numbers plunged fromten years ago, to about 14, today.
Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust has pioneered a compensation program, reimbursing livestock killed by lions and other predators.
In the past, the Maasai and the wildlife simply lived together, in balance. If this could be re-established, by showing to the Maasai the economic value of the presence of wildlife in their land, the future of the land, of the wildlife and of the Maasai people will be assured.
This is exactly what Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust does. Never before these prestigious United Nations Awards were given to the same organization. Kuku Group Ranch, where the camp is located, has square miles of land and is occupied by only a few thousand Maasai. The land is rich in wildlife.
The Trust employs members, as teachers at the schools, rangers and game scouts to protect wildlife, a doctor and nurses at the dispensaries. They preserve their traditional way of living and dignity. This will guarantee that those Maasai willing to keep embracing their lifestyle, will have a place to do it.The Maasai tribe or Masai is a unique and popular tribe due to their long preserved culture.
Despite education, civilization and western cultural influences, the Maasai people have clung to their traditional way of life, making them a symbol of Kenyan culture. Maasai's distinctive culture, dress style and strategic territory along the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania have made them one of East Africa's most internationally famous tourist attractions.
The Maasai people reside in both Kenya and Tanzania, living along the border of the two countries. They are a smaller tribe, accounting for only about 0. The Samburu tribe is the closest to the Maasai in both language and cultural authenticity. It is thought that the Maasai's ancestors originated in North Africamigrating south along the Nile Valley and arriving in Northern Kenya in the middle of the 15th century.
They continued southward, conquering all of the tribes in their path, extending through the Rift Valley and arriving in Tanzania at the end of 19th century. As they migrated, they attacked their neighbors and raided cattle. By the end of their journey, the Maasai had taken over almost all of the land in the Rift Valley as well as the adjacent land from Mount Marsabit to Dodoma, where they settled to graze their cattle.
Tragedy struck the Maasai tribe at the turn of the century. An epidemic of deadly diseases attacked and killed large numbers of the Maasai's animals.
This was quickly followed by severe drought that lasted years. Over half of the Maasais and their animals perished during this period.
Soon after, more than two thirds of the Maasai's land in Kenya was taken away by the British and the Kenyan government to create both ranches for settlers and Kenya and Tanzania's wildlife reserves and national parks. Today, the Maasai people live on a smaller piece of land in the Kajiado and Narok districts, surrounded by these now Kenya's fine game reserves. Many practice nomadic pastoralism, while others have been absorbed into modern day jobs working in tourism where they showcase their culture to visiting tourists.
The warrior is of great importance as a source of pride in the Maasai culture. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the world's last great warrior cultures. From boyhood to adulthood, young Maasai boys begin to learn the responsibilities of being a man helder and a warrior.
The role of a warrior is to protect their animals from human and animal predators, to build kraals Maasai homes and to provide security to their families.Maasaialso spelled Masainomadic pastoralists of East Africa. Maasai is essentially a linguistic term, referring to speakers of this Eastern Sudanic language usually called Maa of the Nilo-Saharan language family. The pastoral Maasai are fully nomadic, wandering in bands throughout the year and subsisting almost entirely on the meat, bloodand milk of their herds.
Their kraalconsisting of a large circular thornbush fence around a ring of mud-dung houses, holds four to eight families and their herds. Polygyny is common among older men; wife lending occurs between men of the same age-set. Marriage involves a substantial bride-price in livestock. The Maasai have a number of patrilineal clans grouped into two classes, or moieties. The basic institution of social integrationhowever, is the system of age-sets. Under this system, groups of the same age are initiated circumcised into adult life during the same open-initiation period; the age-class thus formed is a permanent grouping, lasting the life of its members.
They move up through a hierarchy of grades, each lasting approximately 15 years, including those of junior warriors, senior warriors, and junior elders, until they become senior elders authorized to make decisions for the tribe.
Maasai society is remarkably egalitarian; slaves have never been kept. Between the ages of about 14 and 30, young men are traditionally known as morans. During this life stage they live in isolation in the bush, learning tribal customs and developing strength, courage, and endurance—traits for which Maasai warriors are noted throughout the world.
Ceremonial events are directed by a ritual expert oloiboni who, although he has no political power, is religious head of his people.
The Kenyan and Tanzanian governments are encouraging the Maasai to make permanent agricultural settlements and to give up the practice of isolating young men, in favour of formal education and greater assimilation. Article Media.
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Read More on This Topic. The Maasai moved into what is now central Kenya from an area north of Lake Rudolf sometime in the midth century. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Their southward advance was checked about by the Hehe people from what is now Tanzania, but their raiding parties continued….
To the north and northeast the previous migrations of the Luo from west to east were followed in the 19th century by a new wave of migrations from east to west. The Lango, for example, further expanded in two southward and westward waves toward…. Some Africans, such as the Maasaiwere confined to reserves; by the Maasai reserve extended south of the railway to the present-day border with Tanzania.This jewelry on Discovered is handmade by women artisans of Kenya.
Bright colors and intricate patterns are traditional of the Maasai style. However, there is much more to it than just beautiful beaded jewelry. Did you know about the symbolism and the social meaning of this craft? If not, read on. The beaded handmade jewelry from the Maasai women is a tradition from this tribe, located in Southern Kenya.
The Maasai have been creating beaded jewelry for a very long time. It all started long before the first European contact had occurred. Before, the tribe used natural resources to create their jewelry.
10 interesting facts about the Maasai Tribe
Clay, wood, bone, copper and brass are just few of the materials that were used. When trade with Europeans started in the late 19th century, glass beads were suddenly available, and it is with those that the Maasai decided to continue their tradition of beaded jewels. Maasai women are the ones in charge of the beading. The beaded jewels accompany the tribe through all stages of life. The colors of the jewels are not only chosen because of the beautiful ensembles they make, but also for their symbolic values.
Each color has a meaning that is often related to cattle. Cattle are the main food source of the Maasai and they sustain a deep connection with them. Red symbolizes bravery and strength, but above all, unity as it is the color of the blood of the cow that is slaughtered when the community comes together during celebrations.
Blue symbolizes energy and represents the sky. The sky is of great importance because it provides rain for the cattle. Green stands for the land, which grows food for the cattle.
It symbolizes health. Orange and yellow represent hospitality because they are the colors of the animal skins on guest beds. White means purity, as it is the color of the milk from the cows, considered by the Maasai as pure and holy animals. Finally, black symbolizes the people and all the struggles they must endure. The beaded jewelry by the Maasai women represents the strong culture and tradition of the Kenyan tribe. Order Status Our Story. Traditional Maasai Jewelry from Kenya The beaded handmade jewelry from the Maasai women is a tradition from this tribe, located in Southern Kenya.
Colorful Necklaces with Meaning The colors of the jewels are not only chosen because of the beautiful ensembles they make, but also for their symbolic values. Now that you know the meaning behind the colors, pick the one that fits you best!
Yellow Maasai Beaded Necklace Shop.