Posted on

6 Things You Need To Know Before Shopping At Maasai Market

, Maasai market tips, shopping tips. Maasai market location. African market,

In Traditional African society. Market day was a special day; it was the most eagerly awaited day of the week. The young women will plait each other’s hair the day before; mother’s will wake up early in the morning and quickly go through their chores. It served as a meeting place, a place where community would check on each other, if someone didn’t make it, then members of the community will make a mental note to check on them. It was the place where latest news and style would be picked

This is the same African spirit Maasai market embodies and just like any other African market communication is the key to transactions, it’s about making genuine human connections. To have an unforgettable  and pleasant experience good communications and the following tips are necessary.

 

  1. Avoid brokers: Since it’s a tourist market, Maasai market has dozens of brokers who would approach you mostly at the entrances and ask what you are looking for and turns out they make exactly what you are looking for. They will charge you more than 10 times the price of the product, keeping the lions share and giving the real artisan just the tip. The brokers will lie artisans don’t speak English or the artisans are deaf and dumb. Artisans are entrepreneurs and even if they cant comprehend some English words, they understand the language of money and all lingo that pertains to their work

 

  1. Be ready to haggle: Communication is the center point of the market. Prices vary depending on how well you are able to express yourself as well as establish a connection. If you are African, the quoted price is probably double the normal price and for a foreigner it may be up to five times more. This is because it’s believed that Africans don’t value authentic handmade items like tourists do.

 

  1. Product uniformity: Buy from vendors who are selling only related products. Variety in the market means resellers hence high price.

 

  1. Wholesale prices: Vendors have two price points; wholesale and retail, with wholesale being almost half of retail. And all you need to to qualify is buy an additional two or three depending on vendor policy. Why not get three m for a little over the retail price of one.

 

  1. Walk away: If you are not satisfied with the price or quality walk away, chances are the vendor will budge and come after you and if your issue is with quality there are hundreds of vendors, you will most likely find another one selling the same item.

6. Don’t overdress: The vendors will judge your purchase power based on how expensive you look. The fancier you look, the pricier the quotation.

 

Take your time, explore the market and blend into the spirit of African smile, wave, talk make it an experience.

 

Posted on

African Hair sculpture

The human head has historically functioned as a portable three- dimensional canvas for creatively expressing individual, as well as communal, spiritual, aesthetic, and social values. All over the continent of Africa, hair art forms a vital part of body adornment for both men and women.

The head may be adorned in intricately designed headdresses, wigs, jewelries, or hair sculpture. African hair easily lends itself to several hair- sculpting techniques due to its variety in thickness, color and texture; from the tightly curled to the wavy and natural.

In various African societies, hair art also developed in relation to the type of emphasis placed on other forms of body ornamentation. Examples;

Maasai women don’t grow their hair long in an effort to visually separate their head from the body and this is achieved through wearing artistically handcrafted collars of brightly colored beads often sets. These in turn may be complemented by being worn in conjunction with beaded headpieces, earrings, chokers, and bandoliers, in what might be seen as a form of kinetic sculpture

Akan queen mothers in West Africa partly shaved the hair around the nape and forehead to distinguish their regal stature

In some African cultures, the head itself was coaxed into specially defined shapes from its bearer’s infancy into adulthood. These shapes were not only desired for their aesthetic effect, but often were considered to distinguish social standing, enhance a person’s gait, and express the spiritual values that the community deemed important. Perhaps the most outstanding example is the Mangbetu of Central Africa who prized cone-shaped heads as signs of increased intelligence. An infant’s cranium was molded with tight bands of hide and tree bark, a process repeated at regular intervals until the child reached adulthood. Mangbetu women designed special hairstyles to complement the conical shape. They braided the hair in a spiral around the scalp to the apex, attached hair extensions, and wove these into disc-shaped crowns.

Techniques and Designs

In Africa, skills and techniques of natural hairdressing are acquired mostly by informal apprenticeships, and infrequently by formal vocational training. The former process remains the most prevalent. The novice gleans the skills by observing an expert hair artist, perhaps a family member. Children start by braiding grasses, and then transfer their expertise on the dolls they make on their own.

The creation of hair designs is often a collaborative process between the artist and the client, with the enthusiastic participation of onlookers. The execution of the design; however, ultimately depends on the shape of the client’s head, the structure of the face, and the occasion for which the design is intended. Hairstyling sessions often last several hours, even days, for the execution of more elaborate coiffures.

Traditional Hairstyles styles reveal the rich history of interethnic trade, such as the batter trade and trans-Saharan caravan trade, where jewelry from distant lands became prized ornaments for embellishing various coiffures and similar aspects of hairstyling in  different tribes.

A desired hairstyle was achieved through threading, braiding, twisting, cutting, and shaving, Sometimes a combination to create unusual coiffures for special occasions.

Traditionally, the most basic tools required, besides the artist’s skill, to create African hair art included a comb, some grease, a razor (if needed), and the desired accessories for decoration. For more elaborate coiffures, thread, hair extensions, dyes, and special ornaments may be used.

Braids may be left to cascade individually down the client’s head, or massed up into buns, knots, or other desired styles while the woven locks can further be cropped into short bangs, rebraided, meshed, coiled, or sculpted into magnificent three-dimensional patterns that simulate an infinite variety of shapes such as stars, bridges, snakes, baskets, topiaries, and brimmed hats.

To add flair to the style, an individual head is embellished with objects occurring naturally in local environment or acquired through trade were used. For example:

Karamojong of Uganda and their Kenyan neighbors the Turkana and Pokot would use mud mixed with water is traditionally  used In hair styling among the  It is used particularly at the back of the head where successive layers are built up by pressing mud into the hair. Once the structure has dried to form a hard and smooth surface it is painted.

Maasai male warriors (known as morans), whose long history of twisting delicate braids using red ochre, animal fat, and clay is legendary

Posted on

Importance of sisal baskets and products to communities in Africa

kenyan sisal plant, sisal baskets

Sisal has economic and cultural significance in communities across east Africa. In Swahili its called Mkonge. Sisal is grown in eastern part of Kenya and coastal region. 

Before introduction of currency in Africa, sisal and sisal products were used as a means of exchange during  batter trade while trading with other communities along east Africa.

In African communities Women are the sole weavers of baskets, the art of basket weaving is passed on from mother to daughter, one generation to another. Little Girls learn the skills  by watching their mothers from a tender age after which they start  making sisal ropes. As they grow so does their skill, andAnd women who can’t weave are considered not fit for marriage.

Sisal is also woven into colorful costumes that traditional dancers perform in during cultural ceremonies. 

During wedding ceremonies, the bride  is presented with sisal baskets filled with food by respected and older women from the grooms family. she is expected to take it every morning when she goes to work on her family’s farm and come back with it full so as to keep  her family well fed.

Gifting of sisal baskets during wedding ceremonies played a major role in keeping families together, making divorce cases rare, this is because before the woman leaves  her matrimonial home, she was expected to take back the basket to the person who gifted them. This will entail them explaining why they are leaving and the family will help solve the grievances in the marriage beside it goes further.

Sisal is harvested in a way that is not harmful to the entire plant. Fibre is extracted by a process known as decortication, where leaves are crushed, beaten, and brushed away by a rotating wheel set with blunt knives, so that only fibres remain, after which  water is used to wash away the waste parts of the leaf.

The fibre is then dried and brushed Proper drying is important as fibre quality depends largely on moisture content.  It’s then dyed and sun dried. 

Sisal products are known for their strength, durability, ability to stretch, affinity for certain dyestuffs, and resistance to deterioration in saltwater.

Sisal is a valuable forage for honey bees because of its long flowering period. It is particularly attractive to them during pollen shortage. The honey produced is however dark and has a strong and unpleasant flavour

img_6942-1Traditional dancers adorned in colorful shashay sisal skirts

kenyan sisal plant, sisal basketsSisal plantations

Posted on

Meaning of Maasai/Masai bead Colors

Meaning of Maasai/ masa ibead colors

Jewelries are an integral cultural aspect of the Maasai tribal community. It not only beautiful but it is also a means of expression as well as it gives an individual a sense of identity.
The jewelry design and color indicates the sub-group a person is from. It also indicates the status of a Maasai woman whether she is Single, engaged or married.
It is considered the duty of every Maasai women to learn the jewelry making craft.
All the tribes beadwork is made by the women but is worn by both women and men. Jewelry among the Maasai are made in different colors. the design and pattern are the one that marks and differentiate the status.  The beadwork an individual wears will signify their age and social status. Generally individuals of high social standing will wear more colorful and intricate jewelry. The colors used in the beadwork are selected for their beauty. The colors are also symbolic and have important meanings understood by the tribe. Often these meanings have an association with cattle, which is the Maasai’s main food source and for which they have a deep connection. For instance: –
Red – stands for bravery, unity, and blood. Red is the color of cows blood. Often a cow is slaughtered when the Maasai meet and therefore unity is associated with red. And during important community ceremonies like Initiation
White – represents peace, purity, and health. The association with health comes from white cows milk which the tribe drinks to stay healthy. Milk that comes from cows is considered pure as it is milked directly from them.
Blue – represents energy and the sky. Rain falls from the blue sky which provides water for the cattle and makes the grasses that cow feed on to grow.
Orange – Symbolizes hospitality. The association with cattle is that visitors are served cows milk from orange gourds.
Yellow – like orange yellow also symbolizes hospitality. The animal skins from cattle which guests lie on are usually Yellow
Green – symbolizes health and land. Cattle graze on the green grass of the land.

Black – represents the people and the struggles they must endure

Our Maasai/masai jewelries are all made using the traditional Masai jewelry making skills, passion and culture. Each one is unique, handmade and tell a story of a woman behind the scene. Every purchase places a book in the hand of a girl. We believe emancipation of African girls from bondage of unfair cultural practices that favor boy child over girls.

The are available at www.africancraftsvillage.com

 

img_2426

Posted on

Hello There!

We are makers and suppliers of Authentic handmade ethical  African tribal crafts.
Our products are artistically handcrafted by handpicked artisans in villages around East Africa who have little or no income at all, giving them a means to support their families and educate their children

We also provide our Artisans with Training, Mentor-ship and Capital. We are strong literacy advocates encouraging them  to educate their children regardless of their gender in order for them to have a better and more fulfilling future as no Family can get out of poverty if more than half of the members are downtrodden.

The ancient craft making skills in Africa is passed on from one generation to another. A child masters through endless days they spend watching and imitating  their parents at work. As they grow and practice, their skills and passion for the tradition is sharpened and enhanced.

There is clear division of labor in these African societies with women making jewelries and weaving while men practiced hand carvings, leather works and smithing. However, in recent years, the line has been blurred and majority of women from certain communities are able to live to their full artistic potential by incorporating some of the skills that had been set aside for men only, into weaving and jewelry making as seen in our products.