Why is our Maasai beadwork from Tanzania mostly white?

The semi-nomadic Maasai tribe is from both Kenya and northern Tanzania, however the aesthetic of the traditional beadwork worn by the Maasai in each country differs.

In Kenya, the Maasai bead with mostly primary colours; blue, red and yellow, and therefore are adorned with colourful, bold accoutrements. Probably what you typically imagine when you think of the Maasai tribe and similar to the Samburu tribe too!

Meanwhile, the Maasai who reside in northern Tanzania mostly bead with white beads. When you see a group of Tanzanian Maasai women dressed for a ceremony in layers of all white beads, it is quite a powerful sight.

Some say that different coloured beads have different meanings, with white representing purity and the milk of a goat or cow. However when you ask our beaders, they rarely talk about the meaning behind their traditional beadwork. It just ‘is’. 

As our mission is to support the preservation of Maasai beadwork by creating sustainable employment for Tanzanian Maasai women, we stay true to their traditional aesthetic by embracing white beads for many of our designs. That is why you see many white and neutral coloured pieces across our collections!

Check out our Sipolio collection for our range of white beaded leather cuffs! 

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