Arts and Crafts

Art from East Africa is a reflection of the various communities dotting the region, and the diverse cultures and traditions that each holds. The ancient trade between the tribes situated at the eastern African coast and the Arabs brought forth strong foreign influences that made East African art more distinct.

A common East African art that most tribes in this region share is their elaborate and beautifully patterned beadwork. Colorful beads are vital components in the body adornment of the Masai, Turkana and other Eastern ethnic groups. These vibrantly hued materials are created into accessories, jewelries or used as ornaments embroidered into their exotic clothing, and even tediously incorporated into complex hairstyles. The different styles and designs of this East African art symbolize differences in age, gender and social status between tribal members, feats in war for men and marital status and number of children for women.

  • Maasai-accesories
    Maasai Wear
    Maasai Wear Maasai are best known for their beautiful beadwork which plays an essential element in the ornamentation of the body. Beading patterns are determined by each age-set and identify grades. Young men, who often cover their bodies in ocher to enhance their appearance, may spend hours and days working on ornate hairstyles, which are ritually shaved as they pass into the next age-grade. Maasai Jewelry The Maasai tribe of Africa is well known for its traditional han...
  • Beads-art-tanzania
    Bead Work
    The tradition of Maasai beadwork dates back hundreds of years. It became significant and known to the rest of the world in the 19th century after trade with other tribes. Unmarried females wear large flat beaded discs around their neck when dancing as a sign of grace and flexibility. A woman getting married wears a very elaborate and heavily beaded neck piece on her wedding day, and once married, she wears a long necklace with blue beads. Those of a higher social status wear more colorf...
  • wood-crafts-tanzania
    Wood Crafts
    African wood carvings are traditionally said to be made from ebony wood, with the heart of the tree containing a deep brown to black colour. However, although people called it ebony, it is not from the true ebony that is grown in the area. Instead many of the carvings are produced from the African blackwood tree. The tree is locally known as mpingo and is commonly found all over East Africa, around Dar es Salaam and the Mozambique granadilla. Mpingo allows the artist to carve with incre...
  • Kangas-East-african
    The kanga which comes from the old Bantu (Kiswahili) verb ku-kanga to wrap or close, is a colourful garment similar to kitenge, worn by women and occasionally by men throughout Eastern Africa. It is a piece of printed cotton fabric, about 1.5m by 1m, often with a border along all four sides (called pindo in Swahili), and a central part (mji) which differs in design from the borders. Khangas are usually very colorful. Khangas have for as long as is known been a traditio...