Over the years, the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu beads have formed an integral part of culture. They are far much more than just ornaments as they play a deeper role in these respective ethnic groups. For the Maasai people, the beads reflect their beauty, strength and their deep love and devotion for their cattle”. On the other hand, the latter wear these beads as it reflects a sign of health, one’s marital status and even the number of children one has.
Color beads & their symbolic meaning
All these quality creations bring us to appreciate the beauty in these cultures. To the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu, the beads are just but a source of livelihood as tourists get to buy their pieces during their safaris in the country. Taking an example of Adele Dejak, one of our own African fashion designer, she fancies taking to tours to these communities where she gets to appreciate their culture by taking photos whilst appreciating their culture, livelihood and traditions. Adele has also taken the time to empower them by getting some of the beads from them as these beads form an integral part of her production process in making of chokers, necklaces and bracelets. Their different colors are of significance as the blue bead symbolizes the sky, green bead is for pastures, white is for milk and purity, red signifies blood and black refers to rain.
Maasai, Turkana and Samburu beads are some of the most iconic style and cultural inventions in history. Originally, the main market for the beads was in Kenya and the income heavily relied on tourism but with the rise of eCommerce, these items fetch premium prices abroad. Looking at Adele, she not only sells to local markets but also sells to international markets as some of her bead pieces are worn by celebrities abroad. The beauty and their quality aesthetic are still been used by leading global fashion magazine publishers and leading fashion designers such as Adele Dejak, as a source of inspiration for their promotional photo shoots and collections.
The Future of Beading
So, what does the future of beading hold for the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu communities? As the world is continuously becoming a global village, eCommerce is opening doors to many in the fashion industry, giving the Maasai, Turkana and Samburu an opportunity to showcase their work as well as their collaborations in their world of bead work with quality celebrity Jewellery designers such as Adele Dejak.
What are your views on the topic? Have you supported your local bead artist, be it by getting a beaded choker or bracelet? What do you think is the future of beads? Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!
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