By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern
The Maasai tribe is a tribe in which the people are very proud of their culture, and they do not want to succumb to the western modernization of the digitalized world. They are believed to migrated from northwestern Kenya in the 15th century. Over the years they spread out and settled now in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. As of today, there is a population of over 2 million people in this tribe.
In the Maasai culture old men are the leaders, they run everything in this tribe. They way there is to be ruled is determined by these men. These men have absolute power over the women and children in the society. Unlike many other tribes the Maasai worship a single god that is Enkai. Enkai has a dual nature- Enkai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Enkai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. They are also two totems of the Maasai society- Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of five clans or family trees.
Mbatian the Greatest Spiritual Leader of the Maasai For around 200 years the Maasai were ruled by spiritual leaders known as or Laibons. Though not much is known about the origin of their ritual power it is believed that it was passed on between generations of the ole Supeet family dynasty.
A Laibon held the highest place in the social hierarchy of the Maasai. A Laibon’s position was not political, but he wielded supreme influence and power through his role as chief medicine-man, diviner, and prophet of the people. When the people desire any spiritual connection or when they need it to rain talk to the Laibon.
The Maasai people heavily rely on cattle products, they are well-known for their consumption of cow milk. They also consume raw blood, taken directly from a cow. They find a vein and cut it open and take the blood while. They claim its very nutritious for them and that’s why they have been doing it for years now. Generally, they rely a lot on cattle products as they also consume a lot of beef.
The Maasai are well known for the art of body modification such as the elongating of ears lobes and lips. All these modifications are done at a young age, and they use thorns, twigs, and stones to create the whole effect on the body. So, as they grow the whole also grows and modifications change accordingly. So, it’s not as painful as it looks! They are also very well known for their colourful and artistic jewelry and the dance they do with all the costume on.