Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beads: The Colorful Art of Maasai People


As my beautiful mum puts it so eloquently in the article above, the Maasai are a tribe living in Kenya and some parts of Tanzania. It is estimated that their population is about 1 million. Their culture is very interesting and intriguing to many people around the world and so each year they also receive many visitors. Maasai women are known for the beautiful beadwork and the colorful beads they use. Each bead color signifies something special. 

Blue can be a representative of Sky or God. It can also be a symbol of energy. The sky is of importance in the Maasai culture because it provides water for them, their families, as well as their livestock. Livestock is a primary source of income for Maasai people and as mentioned above can be a sign of power and manhood for men seeking partners in life. 

Yellow is the color of the Sun. The sun helps sustain life for the people and their livestock. Therefore it can symbolize life, growth, fertility, and happiness. 

Green is the color of grass, the land. It can also be a symbol of peace. The land is what provides food for the people and their families and livestock. It is a reminder of the production and the vegetation. 
Maasai Warrior

Note: this picture is not mine. Credit for the picture goes to the amazing photographer of indigenous people Jimmy Nelson and his gorgeous website www.beforethey.com 
I love their website and all of the photos on there. Check them out!
Red is the color of many Maasai dresses and is the color that is used quite a lot in their artisanship as well. Red signifies bravery, warriors, honor, and the strength that Maasai people demonstrate throughout their life, despite all the hardships and challenges. 

There are different accounts of what the color Orange represents. It is said to be a favorite color amongst the women and it can also be representative of friendship and hospitality. Hospitality is something Maasai people truly excel at!

White is the color of the cow and goat's milk. It therefore is a symbol of purity and health. 

Black can be a representative of rain, or the color of the people and the daily struggles they endure everyday. 

My gorgeous mum wearing a Maasai dress. She spent a good amount of time with them while she was there and even learned a few of their dances so she could dance along with them. She loved her time there so much and being the generous and loving person that she is, she really wanted to do something to help them further as she had made such a powerful bond with them. She is the one that planted the seed for the start of my business in my head and I am forever grateful to her, not only for this but for basically being this strong, beautiful, independent, genius, businesswoman, role model, mother, and friend to me that I was blessed to have. 

As time goes by, issues such as global warming, urbanization, and Westernization are making it harder and harder for Maasai people to earn a living by their traditional means such as cattle. Their beautiful and symbolic beadwork which is the result of hours of meticulous work, has become another major source of income for them and their families. I hope you now have a better sense of why every single piece that you purchase from us is so important. Our hope is to make every single one of these women feel empowered, happy, and valued. We'd like them to know just how important and valuable they are and how many people around the world love their work. 

Online store: www.avahapparel.com
Facebook store: https://www.facebook.com/avahapparel

So, as I always say, thank you for purchasing from us and for committing to creating a better world :)

Ava H

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