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Maasai life part II


Maasai have different weapons, the wooden walking stick, called eng’udi, the wooden club called rungu, the short sword called olalem, the long spear called eng’erempe or empere and the slim stick called echipishipi.

The woods used depends on the area where the community leaves, can be Acacia lahai in the ngorongoro area, Dahlbergia melanoxylon in the Tarangire area, merua spp for pyaia etc

The olalem is mostly made working on the larger blade of a panga, reducing the size of the handle and covering it with cow’s tail leather.

There are different types of spears depending on the different subtribe and different use or value. The one with long wooden handle, short pointy back end and short but wide, leaf like front blade is called eng’erempe, it is for the old or the young because it is light. The one with short wooden handle, long pointy back end and long and thin double edged front blade is called embere sero and it is used by the warriors. The most prized ones are the ones with even longer metallic edges and very short wood handle (down to 25 cm) called embere sirua that is also used by warriors for dancing fighting or hunting. It is considered the best because is the heavier and better to kill animals with

The spears are always thrown with the pointy back end forward for practicing and with the sharp double edged front end for real fights or hunts.

They do not make the metallic bits of their weapons by themselves but the blacksmith jobs are done by other tribes. They tend to avoid the blacksmith (il-kunono) as much as they can as they create tools of death

The echipishipi is a flexible stick made mostly from Grewia bushes and traditionally used to discipline children and women.


Both men and women make great use of jewelry and decorations. The woman are normally more adorned then man and, especially during the ceremonies, wear a great deal of beadings that mostly do themselves but they can also trade with other maasai.

There is no particular significance in the shape or color of the beadings but every subtribe and clan has its own characteristics and colors that are considered more fashionable.

The most striking piece of jewelry is the esos, a huge flat necklace made of beads, used in ceremonies.


Normally maasai wear the typical shuka or blanket, the color varies between the different subtribes and clans but mostly are red and blue. They wear a belt and motorbike tyre sandals.

Originally everything was made of leather, the material of clothes and shoes changed with the arrival of new goods from the west as Scottish tartans and tyres.

During ceremonies they dress differently, they may dress with a sort of leather mantle that is heavily decorated with beads and shining metallic circles, this special clothing is called eng’ela